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Evgeny Kuznetsov donates uniforms to sled hockey program

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Evgeny Kuznetsov donates uniforms to sled hockey program

Over the weekend, Evgeny Kuznetsov took part in an interview with Sport-Express' Aleksei Shevchenko. Part of the interview included his prediction that Alex Ovechkin would get back to his 50-goal scoring level of play.

In the rest of the interview though, we learned a lot more about Kuznetsov's charitable work, and why he prefers not to make it all about publicity.

Kuznetsov talked about a recent donation he and some former teammates from KHL Traktor had made to a sled hockey team in Chelyabinsk, but he also explained why he didn't want all the attention that could come with it.

Last week you donated new uniforms to a sled-hockey team [in Chelyabinsk]. I know you and your friends spent a lot [on those uniforms], and that you generally help people out quite often. But I, for one, find out about that randomly.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I don’t really want to advertise about that sort of thing. Yeah, you found out about something. But if I start talking about that without hiding anything, then some people aren’t going to like it. And at the end of the story it’s going to work out that I didn’t do this thing correctly, that I offended that person, I helped these guys, but not those.

[But] if you help out, then the government will pay attention to the problem, [as will] other hockey players and the wealthy.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I understand, but it’s still not really ethical to talk [about this]. You understand, the situation right now is such that if you talk about something, but some people come along who get jealous or who might take advantage. I’m not arguing that I can’t help a lot of people. But I know the value of money perfectly well. I earned my money honestly, and have had to sacrifice a lot. But I’ve got a family, as does my wife. I can’t give it all away. Yes, I do this or that, but I still don’t want to talk about it.

Is it true you support an orphanage?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: It’s true, but I don’t want to comment on it any further.

People put the story about the Chelyabinsk sled-hockey players who didn’t have uniforms up on social media. Lots of hockey players have my number, but you texted me within a few minutes.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: I’ll say it again: I don’t have the means to help everyone. But there you had some people who needed a helping hand. These guys were playing with old equipment, and they love hockey. My [former] teammates also pitched in, I wasn’t alone. But what are we going to say about that?”

Even though Kuznetsov left Russia in 2014, he still continues to be active in his hometown. 

He also talked about his desire to start a children's hockey school there one day.

Fine. You once said that when your career is over you’d like to return to Chelyabinsk to support hockey somehow.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: That I can talk about. I want to found a children’s hockey school there. I’ll start with the very young. I’ll open some sort of center, a place where the kids can come and develop their technical skills. I hope I can convince my father to work with the kids. Everything I know about hockey I got from him. My father is shy about it, but he taught me everything I know. And of course my coaches added things later on, but all the fundamentals were laid in by him.

Are you specifically going to work on stick-handling there?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Yes. I’m going to hire some guys. But they’re not going to just be some random people who once played and have wrapped up their careers. They’re going to be guys with specialized skills, who have something they can pass along to the kids. I’m going to pay them well, so they can give themselves over to the work. And of course I’m going to give a lot of time to the kids. Show them how to do things, talk about [my experience], and work on their technical skills. We’re going to learn how to shoot the puck correctly, and other things that you need to learn from a very young age.

The regional government should invest in that as well.

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Honestly, I’m not going to ask for anyone’s help. So getting back to the center, a little later I want to expand the school into a training complex like I’ve seen in North America and Finland. Three rinks, a cafe upstairs where the parents can watch practices, so they’re not standing by the ice.

I saw something like that in Toronto

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Yes. There’s a hotel nearby, where traveling players can stay. We’re going to have a pick-up team, and we’ll pay particular attention to players with special needs. So we’ll need the government’s assistance for the construction, but I hope by that time I’ll have good friends in high places.

And you want to live in Chelyabinsk?

Evgeny Kuznetsov: Yes, I dream of having a big house on the river bank, where all my relatives can gather.

This is the type of news we'd all like to hear more of in the future. 

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Philipp Grubauer earns his long-awaited first win of the season after another strong performance

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USA TODAY Sports

Philipp Grubauer earns his long-awaited first win of the season after another strong performance

Less than 90 seconds in, Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning very much had a feeling of déjà vu.

With Phillipp Grubauer getting the start against the best team in the league, the Caps took a penalty just 44 seconds into the game. Grubauer failed to freeze the puck on two different opportunities allowing the Lightning to keep the puck in play and score the early goal to go up 1-0.

“I thought early, they score a minute basically into the game and you're like, OK here we go,” Barry Trotz said.

“I was laughing, here I go again,” Grubauer said.

RELATED: 3 REASONS WHY THE CAPS BEAT THE LIGHTNING

Wins have been hard to come by for Grubauer this season. Coming into Fridays’ game, he had none. An early goal against a team as good as the Lightning could have been a backbreaker.

But not this time.

Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 in the first period and that’s when Grubauer took over.

“When it was 1-1, I thought Gruby made some real key saves for us,” Trotz said.

 

He added, “They were getting people to the net and they were dangerous all around. He made some real huge saves for us and we got him more than a goal.”

For the first time since Grubauer’s first start this season back on Oct. 9, the Caps gave Grubauer a lead to protect in the second period courtesy of Devante Smith-Pelly. That not only gave Grubauer confidence, it also allowed his teammates to focus more on playing well in front of him rather than taking chances in the offensive zone in search of a goal.

Bottling up a team as explosive and talented as the Lightning is not easy, but Grubauer was up to the task.

Friday’s 3-1 win was Grubauer’s first of the season. His record now sits at 1-5-1, a record his teammates know is not reflective of how well he has played for them.​

MORE CAPITALS: TARIK'S 3 STARS OF CAPS-LIGHTNING

“I know the guys are thrilled to get a win for Gruby because they know he shows up as a pro every game,” Trotz said.

That was evident after the game as Grubauer's teammates were effusive in their praise for the German netminder.

“Not an easy position to be a backup goalie and he's kept a good attitude throughout this even though we haven't played well in front of him,” Matt Niskanen said.

 

It was hard to figure out afterward just who this game meant more to, whether it was Grubauer whose family is in town for his birthday Saturday and who was in attendance Friday, or his teammates.

“My parents were here so I'm really, really proud to give them a good game and get the win for the boys,” Grubauer said.

Said Niskanen, “Everyone's smiles were a little bit bigger today for him. He played really well. He earned it.”

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Lightning

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USA TODAY Sports

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Lightning

The Caps started a daunting back-to-back on a high note with a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday. Tampa scored first, but the Caps would score the next three goals to earn the win.

Here's why Washington won.

A good response to Tampa’s early goal

When Alex Ovechkin tied the game at 1 late in the first period, it felt inevitable. Tampa Bay took an early 1-0 lead off a power play goal by Vladislav Namestnikov. Rather than spark the Lightning, however, it seemed to wake the Caps’ up from their turkey coma. When Tampa scored, they held an early 3-0 shots-on-goal advantage over Washington. For the rest of the period, the Caps outshot the Bolts 16-4. Ovechkin was a man on a mission as he was all over the ice. In recent weeks, we have seen the Caps at times lack energy at the start of games, but their response to Tampa’s early goal was impressive.

RELATED: TARIK'S 3 STARS IN CAPS' WIN OVER BOLTS

Caps gave Philipp Grubauer a lead to protect

It's been rare this season for Grubauer to protect a lead. So rare in fact that it has not happened since his first start of the season on Oct. 9 which also came against the Lightning. When you are playing from behind, the skaters have to take more chances offensively which can sometimes leave goalies out to dry. Grubauer knows all about that from some of his recent games. When the Caps took a 2-1 lead on Friday, defense became the priority and Grubauer played with a level of confidence we have not seen since his strong performance in a 2-1 loss to Calgary.

Philipp Grubauer

While the Caps could afford to give Grubauer more defensive help as they protected the 2-1 lead, Grubauer himself made some top-notch stops to earn his first win of the season. After a shaky start in which he failed to freeze the puck on two opportunities allowing Tampa to keep the puck in play and score the power play goal, Grubauer was dominant in the crease. He made two especially key saves as he stoned Ondrej Palat in the second period on a one-timer from the slot and denied Vladislav Namestnikov in close midway through the third when a blue line shot from Anton Stralman was deflected behind the defense right to Namestnikov's stick.

MORE CAPITALS: THE CAPS' PRESENCE WAS FELT AT THE REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING GAME