Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov wasn’t feeling well when he arrived at the team’s practice facility Saturday morning, and he was sent home. It’s unclear whether he’ll be available for the Capitals’ Sunday matinee against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers. Kuznetsov is the second Capitals player to fall ill in the past 24 hours; forward Carl Hagelin was a late scratch from Friday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild because he was sick.
“Not the best timing for it, but that’s how things go," Coach Todd Reirden said Saturday. "We’ve got some extra bodies, so you’ll see a few extra people in the warmup tomorrow just to make sure, I imagine, [for a] 12:30 game, just to be prepared. That’s where we’re at, but hopefully it stops there and we can worry about Philadelphia and being as healthy as we can.”
Hagelin was back at practice Saturday, a good sign he’ll play Sunday. With Kuznetsov not on the ice, Hagelin skated beside center Lars Eller and right wing T.J. Oshie on a rejiggered second line. Kuznetsov has 20 goals and 45 assists this season; should he miss Sunday’s game, Eller would take his place on the top power-play unit.
Washington also continues to be without defenseman Michal Kempny, who is out indefinitely after injuring his leg in Wednesday night’s overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Reirden said he won’t have a further update on Kempny for several days, but it’s clear the blue-liner won’t be available for at least the final two games of this homestand. With Kempny out, Christian Djoos is skating on the left side of John Carlson.
“It’s going to take a little bit to be able to figure out what works best for us,” Reirden said Friday.
Washington recalled defenseman Tyler Lewington from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Saturday afternoon. The 24-year-old has appeared in two games for the Capitals this season, posting a goal and an assist.
“In this type of situation, with guys getting sick and stuff, it’s not a real fun game to play, potentially going into a game with only six defensemen in warmup," Reirden said.
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