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Nathan MacKinnon in COVID-19 protocol, out for Avs’ opener


DENVER, CO - MAY 19: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) celebrates after a third period goal against the St. Louis Blues during a Stanley Cup Playoffs first round game between the St. Louis Blues and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on May 19, 2021. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Nathan MacKinnon will miss the Avalanche’s opener Wednesday against the Blackhawks after testing positive for COVID-19.

Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said that MacKinnon is asymptomatic. He also noted that the team roster is 100% vaccinated.

MacKinnon entered COVID-19 protocol on Tuesday and did not practice with the team.

Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar missed the team’s final two preseason games last week after testing positive for the virus. Bednar, who is also asymptomatic, will also not be available for the game against Chicago.

Colorado isn’t the only NHL team dealing with COVID-19 issues. The expansion Seattle Kraken will be without Jared McCann, Joonas Donskoi, Jamie Oleksiak, and Calle Jarnkrok for their first game after they all were placed in the league’s protocol.

Ovechkin questionable for Rangers game

Alex Ovechkin’s start to the season will be possibly delayed as a lower-body injury suffered Saturday may keep him out of the Capitals’ opening game against the Rangers.

Ovechkin did take part in an optional skate Tuesday but Washington head coach Peter Laviolette would only say, “Anything’s possible” and note the captain is questionable.

“Certainly a positive sign that he’s out there,” Laviolette said. “We’ll do what’s best for the player and make sure that they’re healthy and we won’t put them in any situations where they might be jeopardized out there. But obviously it’s great to see him out there.”

The 36-year-old Ovechkin begins this season 164 goals behind Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL record of 894.

Ovechkin wasn’t the only injury-related news to come out of Washington. Nicklas Backstrom was placed on long-term injured reserve as he recovers from a hip injury. The center will have to miss at least 10 games.

“Part of a progression for him,” Laviolette said. “He’s working hard back here with the therapist to continue to improve on a daily basis.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.