Kuznetsov, Samsonov rejoin Capitals after landing in protocol

Patrick McDermott / National Hockey League / Getty

The Washington Capitals got two key players back Monday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov resumed practicing for the first time since the NHL placed them on its COVID-19 protocol list along with Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and defenseman Dmitry Orlov on Jan. 20. Ovechkin and Orlov returned to the lineup Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, respectively.

Kuznetsov isn't sure whether he'll play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We're day-to-day, you know, and it's all about how I'm gonna feel (Tuesday)," he said after the on-ice session. "I'm just happy I'm alive today, and (to) be able to practice with the team is just a big step for me."

The star forward centered the fourth line at practice Monday, while Samsonov served as the team's third goaltender behind Vitek Vanecek and Craig Anderson, according to The Washington Post's Samantha Pell.

Samsonov contracted the virus but said he's on the mend.

Kuznetsov confirmed he experienced COVID-19 symptoms but quipped that he wasn't afraid because of his country of origin.

"No, no, I'm from Russia," he said with a laugh. "And there is not a lot that can scare me."

Kuznetsov tallied a goal and two assists in four games before being forced to miss time. Samsonov went 1-0-1 with seven goals allowed in two contests.

Samsonov began the season as the Capitals' starting netminder. Washington leaned heavily on Vanecek in Samsonov's absence and the first-year puck-stopper initially excelled, earning the NHL's Rookie of the Month honors for January. However, Vanecek has lost his last three games and was pulled from Sunday's 7-4 defeat after allowing the Philadelphia Flyers to score four goals on 14 shots.

The NHL fined the Capitals $100,000 for violating the league's COVID-19 protocol Jan. 20. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Samsonov, and Orlov landed on the list shortly thereafter, and the team admitted its players had failed to adhere to the rules when they interacted in a hotel room.

Kuznetsov, Samsonov rejoin Capitals after landing in protocol
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