The Washington Capitals will again be without three of their top-4 centers when they face the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday, as Lars Eller remains in the COVID-19 protocol.
The Danish pivot missed Tuesday’s morning skate against the Anaheim Ducks, and before puck drop, the team announced that he would be unavailable after entering the league’s COVID protocol. Eller is the first Capitals player impacted by the virus this season, and it is unclear whether or not he tested positive. Washington announced that the team was fully vaccinated at the start of training camp.
It’s an unfortunate situation for Washington, considering Eller was starting to heat up with points in three straight games. So far, he has a goal and eight points in 15 games so far this year.
Eller was centering the third line with Axel Jonsson-Fjallby and Garnet Hathaway while filling in for an injured Nic Dowd. Dowd remains on the injured reserve but made the road trip along with T.J. Oshie. Both are getting time in on the ice and appear to be taking a step in the right direction. Nicklas Backstrom, meanwhile, is still in D.C. and skating on his own in full gear as he works toward a comeback.
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Garrett Pilon ultimately took No. 20’s place in the lineup and ended up making the most of his opportunity, netting his first NHL goal on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Right now, Evgeny Kuznetsov is the only top-4 center currently in the lineup. Taking that all into account, Washington will run with the same lineup it had on Wednesday against Anaheim. Head coach Peter Laviolette had to shake up the lines a bit during the eventual 3-2 OT loss with the matchups tough and the game tight. The lines look a bit different, though.
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby-Connor McMichael-Tom Wilson
Daniel Sprong-Aliaksei Protas-Garnet Hathaway
Carl Hagelin-Garrett Pilon-Brett Leason
Martin Fehervary-John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk-Justin Schultz
Ilya Samsonov will start for the Capitals against the Kings, head coach Peter Laviolette announced prior to puck drop. Samsonov last played in Washington’s 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, stopping 26 of 29 shots. He is 4-0-1 through six games this season with a 2.93 GAA and .894 save percentage.