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For Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 'theatrical' return in a disappointing OT loss

For Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, a 'theatrical' return in a disappointing OT loss

Three games watching from a suite high above the ice was more than enough for Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov. 
It took less than five minutes for Kuznetsov to rip a backhand shot past Dallas goalie Ben Bishop in a 4-3 overtime loss Tuesday night. A three-game suspension for what the NHL deemed detrimental behavior this summer – essentially lying about his cocaine use after failing a drug test at the World Championships in May – was finally over. Kuznetsov could get back to what he does best. 
“He’s good at that,” defenseman John Carlson said with a knowing smile. “He likes the theatrics.”
Not that he was too impressed. Kuznetsov admitted it felt good to score, but goals aren’t the point to him. Never have been. We know that by now. He almost rolled his eyes when asked about the shot that gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 4:49 of the first period. It was a beauty. The loss took some of the starch out of it, though. 
“You know I never care about goals. I’d rather win and be happy tomorrow than that goal,” Kuznetsov said. “But it’s kind of nice. I’m not going to lie. It’s nice to score right away – especially for me. I never focus on that, but I knew I had to respond right away.”
It wasn’t a perfect return. Kuznetsov took an interference penalty at 16:07 of the third period with the Capitals down 3-2, but on the power play. He was also on the ice when Nicklas Backstrom tied the game with the goalie pulled for a 6-on-5 advantage and 31 seconds to go. 
Yet he and fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov also got scored on in overtime after a turnover in the offensive zone led to Tyler Seguin’s game-winner at the other end. The power play, back at full strength with Kuznetsov on the ice, also went 0-for-5. That contributed to the loss, too. 
But in the end, it was just good to have Kuznetsov back. He will have to earn the trust of his teammates and coaches again. Kuznetsov played on the third line with Richard Panik and Carl Hagelin – not his usual spot centering the first or second line. It could take a bit before he makes it back up there full time, according to coach Todd Reirden.   
“It's been a while since he's played and it was important we put him in a situation where he needs to earn that opportunity to move up the lineup,” Reirden said. “Obviously, early on converts for us. I moved around some of the combinations as the game went on and I'll continue to work through those to find something that gives us the best chance to have success. That's something that's going to be a little bit of a moving target to find the right thing.” 
It’s still early in the season, but Reirden knows what he has in Kuznetsov. The Capitals have seen him plenty alongside Ovechkin and Tom Wilson or Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie over the years. They can move him up at any time. But coming off that suspension, Kuznetsov will have to get there with his play and not his reputation.  
“It’s good to have him. One of our mainstays on this team,” Carlson said. “He can do a number of amazing things and you saw it tonight. He’s a big part of our team and we’ll be leaning on him a lot.”



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How to Watch: Capitals at Bruins: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

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How to Watch: Capitals at Bruins: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream

When the Capitals play the Bruins it is always a must-see contest.

Two of the biggest hitters in the league have quite the history against each other in Brad Marchand and Tom Wilson. Expect more of the same when they meat again on Saturday night. 

The Caps will be without Nic Dowd and Carl Hagelin, calling up defenseman Tyler Lewington in their place.

The Caps have not lost in regulation since Oct. 14. and it is now Nov. 15 and Washington has gone a full month without suffering a single regulation loss. The Caps have points in 13 straight games and have won 11 of their last 13.

Here is everything you need to know about the Saturday nights game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins, Game 22 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals at Bruins game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Bruins on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals at Bruins

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live


Capitals: LW Carl Hagelin, upper body, day-to-day 

C Nic Dowd, upper body, day-to-do

Bruins: RW, Zach Senyshyn, lower body, day-to-day

D Trey Krug, upper body, day-to-day

RW Brett Ritchie, upper body, day-to-day

LW Jake DeBrusk, lower body, day-to-day

RW David Backes, upper body, day-to-day

C Karson Kuhlman, leg, day-to-day

D Kevan Miller, knee, day-to-day

D John Moore, shoulder, day-to-day



John Carlson, D: No. 74 has been the best offensive defenseman in the NHL through the first month and a half of the season. He leads all defensemen with 30 points, with Carolina's Dougie Hamilton the next closest with 21. 

T.J. Oshie, RW: After totaling 11 points in 14 games in October, Oshie has just three points in six games in November. Finding the back of the net will be tough for Oshie, as the Bruins allow just 2.39 goals per game, the NHL's fourth-best.


David Pastrnack, RW: Pastrnack has 31 points in 18 games; only Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl have more points in the NHL this season. The Bruins are on a four-game losing streak, and the winger has only one point over that span. Look for him to get back on track against the Capitals.

Brad Marchand, C: Marchand is neck-in-neck with his Pastrnack in points this season, as Marchand trails Pastrnack by just one. The duo will look to continue their early-season success in their first matchup with the Caps this season.


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6 things to know for Caps-Canadiens: Man down for the Caps

6 things to know for Caps-Canadiens: Man down for the Caps

After a quick trip to Philadelphia, the Capitals (14-2-4) return home to host the Montreal Canadiens (10-5-3) for a Friday night matchup. You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live, D.C. Sports Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here are six things to know for Friday’s game.

Man down

Carl Hagelin took the ice in a non-contact jersey for Friday’s morning skate and will not play in the game. Nic Dowd did not participate and is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He had a large gash in his hand late in the game against Philadelphia. That leaves the Caps with only 17 healthy skaters on the roster. A full lineup has 18 skaters.

Todd Reirden said the coaches would meet after the skate to determine who to call from Hershey. The fact that there is a discussion suggests that at the very least they are considering recalling someone other than Travis Boyd.

Here are the lines from Friday’s skate:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Richard Panik
Brendan Leipsic - ??? (Hagelin skated here) - Garnet Hathaway

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Radko Gudas
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen

Samsonov starts, Holtby gets Saturday

With the Caps playing Friday and Saturday, the netminders will split the two games. Ilya Samsonov will play Friday against Montreal while Braden Holtby will get the start Saturday in Boston.

Samsonov was handed his first loss as a starter on Monday against the Arizona Coyotes and his second loss of the season. Friday will be his eighth appearance this season.

It will be a tough matchup as Samsonov will be going head-to-head against one of the top netminders in the world in Carey Price. Interestingly enough, both players have similar numbers this season as Samsonov enters this game with a .915 save percentage and 2.45 GAA as compared to Price’s .916 and 2.65, though Price is doubling up Samsonov in terms of games.

This could be a big night for the power play

The Caps are converting 22.9-percent on the power play, but it did not look good Wednesday in Philadelphia. Friday could provide the power play with a “get right” opportunity as Montreal ranks 28th on the PK at 73.7-percent. It has been better recently at 77.8-percent in their last five games, but the Caps still must be licking their lips over this opportunity...or at least they will if they can get Montreal into the box.

The Canadiens do not take many penalties and are tied for the fourth-fewest minors taken this season at 52.

Ovechkin is due

Ovechkin has 13 goals already this season, but his pace has slowed a bit this month. In six games in November, Ovechkin has only two goals and they both came in the same game against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 7.

The good news is that Ovechkin loves playing against Montreal. In 48 games against Montreal, he has 31 goals and 53 points.

No Kotkaniemi

One of Montreal’s bright young stars will be out of the lineup. Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been out injured for all of November and he will remain out for Friday’s game.

Kotkaniemi is a budding Caps’ killer with two goals and two assists in just three career games against Washington.

One month and counting

The Caps have not lost in regulation since Oct. 14. It is now Nov. 15 and Washington has gone a full month without suffering a single regulation loss. The Caps have points in 13 straight games and have won 11 of their last 13.