Evgeny Kuznetsov

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Explaining the early penalty that changed Game 1 of Capitals-Blue Jackets

Explaining the early penalty that changed Game 1 of Capitals-Blue Jackets

It looked like the Columbus Blue Jackets would escape the first period.

It's always dicey heading into an opponent's stadium to start the playoffs. With time dwindling down, Columbus had killed off two Capitals power plays, the score was tied at zero and Sergei Bobrovsky looked like he was gaining confidence against a team he has historically struggled against.

Mission accomplished? Not quite.

With 2:37 remaining in the first, Columbus dumped the puck into the offensive zone and Caps defensemen Michal Kempny went back to retrieve. Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson caught Kempny in the back sending him face-first into the boards. Kempny was down on the ice for several moments before making his way off the ice with the team's athletic trainer.


You can see a replay of the hit here:

Anderson made his way to the penalty box, but soon was escorted down the tunnel as he had been assessed a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. His night was over.

The penalty was a clear board. Rule 41 of the NHL rulebook is specifically dedicated to boarding. According to 41.1, "A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently or dangerously."

When a player is struck in the back, he is considered defenseless. Clearly, that was the case here as Anderson struck Kempny in the back.

Rule 41.3 states a referee can assess a major penalty "based on the degree of violence of the impact with the boards."

Basically, the call is at the referee's discretion. If he chooses to call a major, that opens up the possibility for a game misconduct.

Rule 41.5 states a referee can assess a game misconduct for boarding "when a major penalty is imposed under this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent."

The issue for Anderson is the fact that his hit sent Kempny's head into the glass causing the injury. That earned the Jackets winger a first period trip to the showers and gave the Capitals five minutes of power play time to work with.

Washington certainly took advantage. Well, Evgeny Kuznetsov did at least, with two goals on the power play.

Suddenly a 0-0 first period turned into a 2-0 Caps lead.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov's two quick goals proves he's the Caps' biggest x-factor

Evgeny Kuznetsov's two quick goals proves he's the Caps' biggest x-factor

With two minutes remaining in the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Capitals and Blue Jackets remained tied 0-0.

By the time public address announcer Wes Johnson gave Capital One Arena the "One Minute Warning" the Capitals held a 2-0 lead thanks to two quick goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Kuznetsov was awarded the first goal of the game on the team's third power play attempt. At first it appeared as if TJ Oshie would be credited with the goal, but after a official review, the goal was upheld and was awarded to Kuznetsov.

But just 29 seconds later, Kuznetsov unloaded a blistering shot from the top left side, beating Sergei Bobrovsky for the second tim in under a minute.



What Alex Ovechkin does in the playoffs will garner the biggest headlines, but Kuznetsov is arguably Washington's most important two-way player.

Often mercurial, Kuznetsov is a lot to handle for opposing players and if he is clicking, it will allow Nick Backstrom and the aforementioned Ovechkin to really make a difference.


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4 reasons the Caps beat the Rangers

4 reasons the Caps beat the Rangers

Just when it looked like the Caps were going to fall, a crazy finish allowed Washington to force overtime and win a game in which they never led.

Goalies Braden Holtby and Henrik Lundqvist dueled to a 1-1 tie in the third period when Ryan Spooner gave the Rangers the late lead. A Capitals team that had managed only one goal all game scored two in less than two minutes for the overtime victory.

Here's how Washington pulled it out.

A late first period goal

New York looked like they would take a 1-0 lead into the locker room after the first period, but great efforts from Brooks Orpik and T.J. Oshie set up Andre Burakovsky for a late game-tying goal. Jimmy Vesey tried to break the puck out of the Rangers’ defensive zone, but his first touch was a bit too far out in front. Orpik stepped up at the blue line to intercept and while he did not ultimately get the puck, he slowed it down enough for Oshie to catch Vesey from behind for the steal it in the neutral zone. He took it back the other way and the rush resulted in Burakovsky slipping the puck through the pads of Henrik Lundqvist to tie the game.


Killing off a double-minor

With the score tied at 1 with just over five minutes remaining in the second, Michal Kempny caught Cody McLeod up high with the stick and drew blood, giving the Rangers four minutes with which to work on the power play. Even with the penalty coming late in the period, the penalty killers were up to the task and killed off all four minutes to keep the score tied. Braden Holtby contributed four saves to the effort on high-quality opportunities.

A misplay by Neal Pionk

With the Caps desperately searching for the tying goal with the goalie pulled late in the third period, a complete misplay by defenseman Neal Pionk, who otherwise played a very strong game, allowed Lars Eller the chance to tie the game. Pionk and Eller were battling in front of the net as Evgeny Kuznetsov had the puck at the top of the circle. He passed it down to Nicklas Backstrom who was behind the goal line. Pionk responded by giving a quick shove to Eller before dropping to the ice, looking to cut off the back-door pass to the waiting Ovechkin. By doing so, however, he left Eller all alone and uncontested in front of the net. Backstrom hit Eller with the short pass and Eller was able to chip it past Lundqvist while Pionk watched from his knees positioned right next to him.

Magic from the wizard

You could tell from the start of the game that Kuznetsov was going to be a factor in this one. He had his chances in the first period, including a penalty shot, but was not able to score…until overtime. With room to work with, Kuznetsov turned an individual effort into a fantastic game-winning goal. He weaved his way with the puck through the defense into the offensive zone, then pulled back and wheeled around to regroup. Rather than retreating to the neutral zone, however, Kuznetsov turned in front of the blue line, faked a slap shot, made one more move and fired a wrister to finish off the Rangers.