Caps start Samsonov over Holtby, coach insists there's no controversy
Patrick McDermott / National Hockey League / Getty

The Washington Capitals started rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov over a struggling Braden Holtby on Wednesday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, but head coach Todd Reirden insisted prior to the game the decision was not worth reading into.

"It's not a goaltending controversy at this point. Braden's our No. 1 goalie," Reirden said after the team's morning skate, per Sportsnet's Chris Johnston.

Holtby, the club's No. 1 since 2013, hasn't been good enough to start the 2019-20 campaign. In five games, the 30-year-old has posted a .846 save percentage and was yanked from his last start after allowing three goals on three shots.

While Reirden doesn't believe Holtby is handing over the reins just yet, pressure has certainly begun to mount on the veteran netminder, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Samsonov was a first-round pick of the Caps in 2015, and after spending four years in the KHL and one in the AHL, has looked impressive to start his career in Washington. The 22-year-old owns a .944 save percentage in three games so far and he'll be tasked with shutting down a Leafs offense tied for first in the NHL with 28 goals for through seven contests.

Caps start Samsonov over Holtby, coach insists there's no controversy
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