Kuznetsov confirms latest absence was due to testing positive for COVID-19 again

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov tested positive for COVID-19 a second time, he said Thursday, explaining his lengthy absence at the end of the regular season and start of the playoffs.

He declined to offer any details beyond that.

"Yeah, I was tested positive for coronavirus, but I think we should focus on hockey right now," Kuznetsov said.

Prior to Wednesday's Game 3, the last time Kuznetsov played was May 1. He and Ilya Samsonov were benched for a game on May 3 and they landed on the NHL COVID list soon after.

"It’s nice to be back and right away to playoff hockey," Kuznetsov said. "It’s always fun. It’s all we’ve been dreaming about and, of course, it wasn’t easy, but I believe that for everybody it’s not easy. Tight hockey and you know we’ve been having fun and enjoying the game and it will be a long series, I hope, and we’re going to play some great hockey.”

Kuznetsov logged 26:41 in his return on Wednesday while Samsonov started in net, his first playoff start.

"It's funny, they said it's not a lot of people get it twice," Kuznetsov said, "So it wasn't easy to be in hockey shape right away after you sit in a house."

As this was his second time Kuznetsov had to miss extended time for COVID-19, he said he was better prepared for recovering and being able to return to the ice more quickly.

"I thought he was good," Laviolette said of Kuznetsov, "Twenty-six minutes coming off after 15 days is probably a daunting task for a lot of people, even a good skater like Kuzy. He, like everybody, you start to fatigue a little bit in those circumstances. But for the most part, I thought he did a pretty good job."