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Capitals players in quarantine expected to miss next four games [UPDATE]

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and starting goalie Ilya Samsonov will be sidelined after violating the NHL’s Covid-19 protocols.

Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin reacts as he talks with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby during the second period at the PPG Paints Arena. Pittsburgh won 4-3 in overtime. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Jan. 21 — Capitals coach Peter Laviolette announced that Ovechkin and the other three players in quarantine are expected to miss at least the next four games. That means no Ovechkin, second-line center in Kuznetsov, top-pairing D in Orlov and starting goalie in Samsonov. The Capitals will have major holes to fill in the roster, particularly on the power play.

The Washington Capitals received a $100,000 fine from the NHL after violating Covid-19 health and safety protocols and were forced to place four Russian players on the Covid-related absence list on Wednesday night. Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Samsonov and Dmitry Orlov were all placed on the list and are ineligible to play until cleared.

The NHL announced the fine for the Capitals after players had social interactions outside of team activities while not wearing masks. It’s not exactly a coincidence that all four players are Russian. Ovechkin and the gang have been teammates for a long time — minus Samsonov. This will be a tough break for Washington, which has started the season 2-0-2, coming off an OT loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, 5-4.

Here’s a statement from Ovechkin on the violation:

This impacts both of the Capitals’ top two lines. We could see either Jakub Vrana or Richard Panik promoted to the first line at LW to replace Ovie. Lars Eller could be bumped up to center the second line with Daniel Sprong and Panik/Vrana. We’ll see who draws into the lineup to replace the two forwards, while Orlov may be replaced by Trevor van Riemsdyk on the blue line.

Samsonov being out means the Capitals will likely start Vitek Vanecek in goal with Craig Anderson serving as backup in the short-term. Vanecek and Anderson should both be available on most fantasy hockey season-long waiver wires. Vanecek suffered the loss on Tuesday in OT, but played well in his season debut, a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in which he made 30 saves.