Evgeny Kuznetsov has been named first star by the NHL for the month of January.
In 15 games last month, the Caps’ center produced a team-high 20 points (seven goals and 13 assists) as Washington went 12-2-1 to seize first place overall in the league.
Kuznetsov’s 20 points in January are the most points in a month by any Caps player since Alex Ovechkin posted 22 (14 goals, eight assists) in April 2013.
“Of course, [the honor] means a lot for my parents and my family,” Kuznetsov said after Wednesday’s morning skate in Arlington. “It’s all about the team game and we all played great [in January]. Sometimes we get some points or goals, [but] that’s work from all five guys on the ice.”
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Wednesday marked the second time Kuznetsov has been named first star of the month. The 24-year-old Russian was first star last January, too, after racking up four goals and 12 assists in 10 games.
This January was something else, though.
After producing no goals and nine assists in 13 December contests, Kuznetsov started 2017 with a bang, tying Boston’s Brad Marchand for the most points in January.
Kuzy’s memorable month began with a pointless performance on New Year’s Day vs. the Senators. But he bounced back in a big way a game later, posting four points (goal, three assists) in the Caps’ wild 6-5 overtime win vs. the Maple Leafs. On Tuesday, he capped the month in Brooklyn with a goal and an assist in the Caps’ 3-2 loss to the Islanders.
Kuzy said the chemistry he’s forged over the past four-plus weeks with linemates Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams has helped propel him.
“The longer you play together, you find some ways—even how you talk on the ice—and that’s always helping,” he said. “We have a great group of guys.”
Kuznetsov is third on the Caps in points with 39 (10 goals, 29 assists) behind only Nickas Backstrom (48) and Ovechkin (46).
“The whole team is playing better and better,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s not easy, but you feel more comfortable when all guys going. When someone has a bad day, other guys pick him up. It’s always great to play with the great teammates.”