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Kuznetsov one step ahead of rest of NHL


Kuznetsov one step ahead of rest of NHL

Maybe there will come a day when the rest of the NHL catches on to what Evgeny Kuznetsov is thinking and seeing on the ice. It’s just not today.

Kuznetsov was otherworldly in the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators on Friday night, pulling off three brilliant assists for a highlight reel Kuznetrick.

“He’s very deceptive,” said Caps left wing Daniel Winnik, who scored his first goal as a Capital after Kuznetsov froze Nashville goaltender Carter Hutton by faking a shot and sending a slap pass to Winnik. “He’s a great skater and he’s really good through the middle of the ice.” 

“A lot of guys can maybe see what he does,” said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who caught the Predators on a line change with a long outlet pass to Kuznetsov on Winnik’s goal. “But he executes all the time. He’s fun to watch.”

With his three assists, Kuznetsov now ranks tied for second in the NHL with 53 assists and leads the NHL with 41 primary assists. He also leads the league with a plus-33. All three of his assists Friday night were primaries and all had a touch of magic.

On T.J. Oshie’s go-ahead goal in the second period, Kuznetov swung around the left side of the net, drew defenseman Mattias Ekholm to him like a magnet and slipped a backhand pass to Oshie. By the time Hutton reacted, the puck was behind him for Oshie’scareer-high  22nd goal. 

“It just happens,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s a lucky play. When they’re open I get the puck to my linemates and they have to score. I’m always happy when my line scores a goal.”

Kuznetsov finished off his three-point night 36 seconds into the final period when he passed the puck to himself off the boards behind the Nashville net, then flipped a pass to Burakovsky in the crease, where Burakovsky roofed a shot over Hutton.

“Every day in practice and every game we play with each other we’re starting to learn each other,” said Burakovsky, whose goal was his 15th of the season. “I kind of know exactly what he’s going to do with the puck. I’m just trying to find open ice.”

The win was the Caps’ second straight and pushed their point total to 107, which is 19 more points than the second-place Rangers in the Metro Division, 18 more points the Atlantic Division-leading Florida Panthers and 14 points more than the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars.

“I’ve never been on top of the league,” Kuznetsov said, referring to his five seasons in the KHL and three in the NHL. “I never know how this feels and it feels pretty nice right now. We have to stay with it and play 100 percent every game.”

RELATED: Kuznetrick leads Caps over Predators

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

3 reasons the Caps beat the Stars

The Washington Capitals had not beaten the Dallas Stars at home since 2006, Alex Ovechkin's second season in the NHL. That streak ended on Tuesday in a 4-3 Caps win.

Here's how the Caps were finally able to down Dallas in Washington.

Oshie still hot

After going 19 straight games without a goal, T.J. Oshie has been red-hot of late with four goals in his last four games. He scored Washington’s first goal in what would become a three-goal period for the Caps as they battled back from a 1-0 deficit into a 3-3 tie through 40 minutes. Oshie also added an assist as he won a power play faceoff that John Carlson fed to Alex Ovechkin for the goal.


Ovechkin victimizing his favorite target

You knew Ovechkin would score given he was playing against one of his favorite targets. With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has 22 goals against Kari Lehtonen in his career, tied with Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he has scored on any netminder. Lehtonen has not been in the Eastern Conference since the 2008-09 season. When he goes to sleep at night, Ovechkin is who he sees in his nightmares.

The Carlson-Klingberg duel

Carlson and John Klingberg entered Tuesday’s game each with 59 points, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. Carlson downplayed the matchup both before and after the game, but it was clear that both players were playing at another level all game long. While both players tallied two points on the night, you have to give the win to Carlson as he had the most significant point, a game-winning goal in the third period.


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Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Tarik's 3 Stars: Ovechkin further cements his place in history

Alex Ovechkin further cemented his place in NHL history, John Carlson stayed hot and Braden Holtby was good when called upon as the Caps downed the Stars, 4-3, at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night.

The victory was Washington’s fifth in the past six games. It also marked the Caps’ first win over Dallas in D.C. since 2006.

Tarik’s three stars of the game:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season and the 602nd of his career in the second period to give the Caps a short-lived 3-2 edge in the second period.

The goal put Ovi back atop the league as he seeks a seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. It also pushed him past Jari Karri and into sole possession of 19th place on the NHL’s all-time list. Ovechkin has now victimized Kari Lehtonen 22 times, which is tied for the most goals he’s scored against a single netminder. (Henrik Lundqvist has also given up 22 goals to No. 8). Ovi also had a couple of secondary helpers.

2-John Carlson, Capitals

Carlson scored the game-winner 4:59 with left to play, blasting a one-timer past Lehtonen to put the Caps ahead 4-3.

Carlson also notched an assist, which allowed him to stay even with Dallas’ John Klingberg. Klingberg had two assists. Both players ended the game with 61 points—tied for the most among all NHL defensemen.    

3-Alexander Radulov, Stars

From his first shift, it was apparent that Radulov was determined to leave his mark on the game. And he did just that, recording a goal, an assist and boarding minor that bloodied Caps defenseman Michal Kempny. Radulov’s goal—a redirection of a John Klingberg shot—was his 26th and it evened the score, 2-2, in the second period.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.