Put a pair of reading glasses on him and Evgeny Kuznetov’s teammates would agree he’s a dead ringer for Harry Potter.
Put a hockey stick in his hands and that’s when the magic flows from his fingertips.
“I don’t know what kind of stick he uses or what he does with that thing, but it’s like a wand out there,” Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie said after practice on Wednesday. “Some of the things he does is absolutely magic.”
Kuznetsov pulled from his bag of tricks again Thursday night, scoring two goals and assisting on a thirdp-period goal by Tom Wilson as the Capitals rolled over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 at Verizon Center.
With his three-point night Kuznetsov is tied with Nicklas Backstrom for the team lead in points with 41 and tied with T.J. Oshie for second on the team in goals with 15.
Kuznetsov’s first trick of the night came 6:12 into the second period when he took a nice pass from fellow Russian Dmitry Orlov and beat Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller with a lightning-quick forehand to backhand move.
“I waited for their D to do something and I just made a good pass to Kuzy and he scores,” Orlov said. “It doesn’t matter who’s in net. He’s a good player with some good skills, especially on the breakaways.”
Early in the third period, after Karl Alzner gave the Caps a 2-0 lead with his third goal of the season, Kuznetsov chased the puck behind the net and, with his back to Tom Wilson, found the big winger with a backhand pass into the slot.
“I see him,” Kuznetsov said. “He talked to me. It was a good play by all five guys.”
Kuznetsov called it a “lucky” pass.
Wilson wasn’t buying it, and neither was Capitals coach Barry Trotz.
“I think you expect the unexpected with him,” Wilson said. “I was just standing in the slot and that saucer pass kind of went three or four feet in the air and landed right on my tape. You can’t say it’s lucky when he does it all the time. You have to be good to be lucky and that was a great play.”
In just his second full season in the NHL, Kuznetsov is starting to convince players around the NHL that he’s just as difficult to defend as Nicklas Backstrom. In fact, after Thursday night’s loss, Canucks forward Henrik Sedin said that when you play the Capitals you have to defend two top lines.
That’s something Trotz already knows.
“I guarantee you he’s thinking of something else to do next game if he’s in that same spot (behind the net),” Trotz said. “He doesn’t want people to think he’s a one-trick pony and figure him out.
“He’s got a few things up his sleeve all the time. He’s fun to watch and he’s probably a pleasure to play with. I could probably score a goal once in a while playing with him.”