In a full sixty game, with the Caps best start since the All-Star break, an even brighter star shone at the Verizon center last night, leaving no doubt as to exactly why team mates call Evgeny Kuztnetsov Harry Potter.
Tonight Kuznetsov made assists on three of the capitals four goals using three very different passing techniques further distinguishing his finesse with the puck, hockey acumen and overall slick passing skills.
In the first goal of the night, goaltender Braden Holtby sent a long pass down to Kuznetsov who, in world-class passing form, fired a pump fake shot at the goal that he transitioned to a cross ice pass to the waiting Daniel Winnick who popped a wrist shot for the score.
Holtby says that Kuznetsov has the rare ability to see plays and scoring opportunities develop, “A lot of guys, top-level guys, can maybe see that at times but he executes it all the time. He’s fun to watch and playing with a lot of energy.”
Kuznetsov was also the catalyst for TJ Oshie’s score in the second period when he made a great no look feed from behind the goal that faked out the Predators goal tender paving the way for Oshie to tap in a wrist shot for the Capitals second score of the night.
While Kuznetsov humbly attributes these passes to luck, Oshie knows better, “He [Kuznetsov] sees things that only a handful of other players in the league can see.”
The final assist was to line mate Andre Burakovsky. Kuzy caught the puck off the boards and snapped a quick pass to find Burkavosky’s wanting stick at the net for the Capitals fourth and final goal of the game.
Burakovsky said, “The things he [Kuznetsov] does with the puck are just incredible and fun to see. Obviously we have a really good chemistry together and I think we can be really dangerous together in the playoffs with Oshie, It’s a really good line.”
It seems that Kuznetsov keeps getting better. He’s intuitive on the ice and, as Holtby says, “He’s very deceptive – smart. Creative.“ Those skills have the potential to carry the Capitals deep into the playoffs. And what’s most ironic is that Kuznetsov chalks up his incredible talent to good luck.
By Stephanie Judge