Kuznetsov stays hot with short-handed goal vs. Flames

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the 2021-22 season tasked with holding down the center position on the Capitals’ first line. With Nicklas Backstrom placed on injured reserve while he completes his rehab from offseason hip surgery, Kuznetsov was always going to be an important component to Washington’s success out of the gate.

So far, so good.

The Capitals fell behind 3-0 to the Calgary Flames in the first period Saturday, but Kuznetsov picked them up with a short-handed goal to give him nine points over his first five games to start the year.

Kuznetsov’s goal sparked a second-period rally for Washington, which saw both Martin Fehervary and Alex Ovechkin find the back of the net to tie things up before the horn sounded for the second intermission.

Prior to the game, NBC Sports Washington’s Alan May and Al Koken debated on Capitals Pregame Live just how high Kuznetsov’s point total will rise by the end of the season. May went bold, predicting the 29-year-old would set a career-high with 90-100 points. Koken went a bit more conservative with a guess of 85 points before a “big boom” in the playoffs.

The Capitals held on to force overtime, though Calgary's Elias Lindholm hit the game-winner. Kuznetsov's nine points tied him with Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar for fourth in the NHL behind Connor McDavid (13), Leon Draisaitl (11) and Ovechkin (10).