Maple Leafs turn back to Samsonov vs. Sabres: 'He has to play'
The Toronto Maple Leafs will turn back to goalie Ilya Samsonov for Thursday's game against the Buffalo Sabres after starting Martin Jones in three of the past four.
Samsonov last played a week ago in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets in which the Maple Leafs rallied from a 5-0 deficit after two periods.
The 26-year-old has struggled this season, posting a 5-1-5 record with a 3.51 goals-against average and a .878 save percentage. He appeared to lose his starting role to Joseph Woll early in the season before Woll suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 7.
"He has to play," Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said of Samsonov on Thursday. "We have to get him going here. That’s really it."
Samsonov started 40 games for the Maple Leafs last season, going 27-10-5 with a 2.33 GAA and a .919 save percentage. His struggles this season have come after he was awarded a one-year, $3.55 million contract through arbitration in the summer.
Jones, recalled from the AHL earlier this month, is 3-1-0 with the Maple Leafs this season, owning a .930 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average.
Following Thursday's game against the Sabres, the Maple Leafs will visit the Blue Jackets on Saturday before entering their holiday break.