Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov tests positive for COVID-19 as protocols sideline Ovechkin, 2 others

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Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov blocks a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Washington Capitals will be without superstar Alex Ovechkin, goalie Ilya Samsonov, center Evgeny Kuznetsov and defenseman Dmitry Orlov for at least the next four games because of COVID-19 protocols, coach Peter Laviolette said.

It was revealed Thursday afternoon that Samsonov tested positive for coronavirus. Veteran netminder Craig Anderson has been called up from the team’s taxi squad and will likely get some playing time over the next four games alongside Vitek Vanecek.

Ovechkin, a three-time NHL MVP, was placed on the league’s unavailable list Wednesday along with , Samsonov, Orlov and Kuznetsov. Laviolette indicated there was a positive virus test and the league did contact tracing.

Washington was fined $100,000 for breaking pandemic protocol for the players being in a hotel room together unmasked.

“Our training staff has worked extremely hard to create a safe environment for our players and staff to be able to compete this season,” the Capitals said in a statement. “We are disappointed by our players’ choice to interact in their hotel room and outside of team approved areas. We accept the NHL’s decision and once again will reiterate the COVID-19 Protocols in place to make sure the players are in full compliance moving forward.”

“I regret my choice to spend time together with my teammates in our hotel room and away from the locker room areas,” Ovechkin said. “I will learn from this experience.”

The Capitals’ home opener is Friday night against Buffalo. Washington will also welcome the New York Islanders to Capital One Arena for two games. There was no word Thursday whether any of those games were in danger of being postponed, like what happened to the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes already this season.

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