- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Washington Capitals had avoided any coronavirus-related issues through the first week of the season.

But the NHL announced Wednesday that the league fined the Capitals $100,000 for violating coronavirus protocols, with interactions taking place between team members who were in close contact and were not wearing masks.

And then the league added four Washington players to the coronavirus protocol-related absences list: forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov.

Being added to the league’s protocol-related absences list does not necessarily mean those players have tested positive; rather, it could be a precautionary move as they evaluate those players after a potential contact.

In four games, Ovechkin has recorded five points, tied with forward Tom Wilson for the team high. The 35-year-old has one goal and four assists, and Kuznetsov has three points. Orlov has started all four games and Samsonov has started in net for two of them, with a 3.36 goals against average and a .868 save percentage in those games.

If those players miss any game time, Vitek Vanecek will likely take Samsonov’s place between the pipes. He’s played twice this year, with a .902 save percentage and 2.97 goals against average.

Washington is carrying 39-year-old goalie Craig Anderson on the taxi squad, and the team has minor-league goaltenders Zach Fucale and Pheonix Copley available, too.

The Capitals also have defensive depth, with Trevor van Riemsdyk and Jonas Siegenthaler on the active roster. Neither has played in games this season, but both have NHL experience. Van Riemsdyk has played 364 games between his time with the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes, while Siegenthaler has featured 90 times for Washington the last two years.

The Capitals are scheduled to return to Capital One Arena for the first time this season on Friday against the Buffalo Sabres after a four-game road trip. Washington opened the campaign with consecutive wins against the Sabres before dropping two matches to the Pittsburgh Penguins — one in overtime and one in a shootout.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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