Samsonov came off the covid-19 list Saturday and is eligible to play Monday night in Game 2 of the Capitals’ first-round playoff series against the Boston Bruins, though it is not yet clear whether he will. Kuznetsov was taken off the list Sunday but will be unavailable to play for a “few more days,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said.
According to a person with direct knowledge of the situation, Kuznetsov and Samsonov were originally placed on the covid-19 list because one of the players tested positive and the other was deemed a close contact.
“We’re going to evaluate and see where they’re at,” Laviolette said. “I have no timetables. They have been off for two weeks. They’re pushing close to up to two weeks, with regard to being on the ice and working out and conditioning. We’re going to evaluate them the next couple of days and try to get a read on where they’re at.”
The Capitals beat the Bruins, 3-2 in overtime, Saturday night in Game 1 despite losing starting goaltender Vitek Vanecek to a lower-body injury in the first period. Veteran Craig Anderson entered and made 21 saves on 22 shots to earn the win.
Vanecek remains listed as day-to-day, and Laviolette had no update Sunday regarding the severity of Vanecek’s injury.
“We’ll see,” Laviolette said. “I’m not sure. I’m not sure if it’s a short day-to-day or a longer day-to-day.”
Laviolette also would not confirm whether Samsonov would be an option in net Monday.
“I’m going to focus on what’s directly in front of me and the fact we’ve had great goaltending,” Laviolette said. “I’ve got a goaltender that just came back, is on the ice for the first time today. We’re going to evaluate and see where he’s at.”
Anderson, 39, would be next in line to start Game 2. Pheonix Copley was the emergency backup Saturday and probably would be the No. 2 goaltender Monday if Vanecek and Samsonov are unable to return. Copley, who played in 15 games this season for the Capitals’ American Hockey League affiliate, hasn’t appeared in an NHL game since April 2019.
Samsonov hasn’t played in a game since May 1, when he allowed three goals on 26 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. When Samsonov went on the covid-19 list in January, he needed extra time to get back into game shape after he was cleared to play.
The Capitals also recalled goaltender Zach Fucale to the active roster Sunday. The 25-year-old made 11 appearances in the AHL this season but has yet to make his NHL debut.
Anderson has appeared in five previous postseasons as a member of the Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche, but he made only four regular season appearances this season before coming off the bench Saturday.
“We’re really happy with the way Anderson has played for us in the games that he has played,” Laviolette said. “You’re talking about an experienced goaltender who has been there and done that, has excellent numbers in the regular season and the postseason, when called upon with our organization has answered the bell. And so again we’re going to focus more on what’s directly in front of us and available.”