The coronavirus issues that tracked the Washington Capitals throughout the season followed them into the first round of the playoffs, with center Evgeny Kuznetsov remaining on the NHL’s covid-19 list for Saturday’s opener against the Boston Bruins. Goalie Ilya Samsonov, who started 18 games during the regular season, was removed from the list but didn’t dress for Game 1.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, one of the players tested positive and one was deemed a close contact. The person did not distinguish which player tested positive, though Kuznetsov remains on the list, and the team has not indicated when he is expected to return.
Kuznetsov, a key part of the Capitals’ 2018 run to the Stanley Cup title, and Samsonov were both placed on the list May 4, one day after both missed the team’s game against the New York Rangers because of disciplinary reasons.
Both players were also on the list earlier this season.
Kuznetsov and Samsonov were put on the list for the first time Jan. 20 — along with teammates Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov — after Samsonov tested positive for the coronavirus Jan. 19.
Both players said they experienced covid-19 symptoms after their first stint on the list. Samsonov said he had trouble walking and breathing and said there were a few days when he felt “pretty sick.”
Kuznetsov was off the ice from Jan. 20 to Feb. 8, missing eight games. Samsonov did not play until Feb. 28. The Russian goaltender was in line to compete with rookie Vitek Vanecek to be the No. 1 starter in the playoffs for the Capitals. Vanecek started Game 1 on Saturday against Boston and veteran Craig Anderson, who only made four appearances this season, dressed as the team’s No. 2 goaltender.
Kuznetsov, in the fourth season of an eight-year, $62.4 million contract, has had an inconsistent year, recording nine goals and 20 assists in 41 games.