Evgeny Kuznetsov was sent to the quiet room in the third period after a blindside head hit by Ian Cole.
Kuzy returned and would have the last laugh in overtime. The Russian center ended the game with a stunning breakaway goal, unleashing his customary bird celly as the crowd roared.
The victory gave the Capitals their second straight win and their fourth in the last 11 games.
The play was started by Alex Ovechkin, who collected a turnover by Nathan MacKinnon in the defensive zone and sprung Kuznetsov with a perfect outlet pass.
Kuznetsov looked at the Capitals bench twice, before deking once and sliding the puck through Semon Varlamov’s five hole.
The goal was a mirror image of the goal that Kuznetsov scored to eliminate the Penguins in the 2018 postseason.
Kuznetsov lifted his right leg and flapped three times in celebration.
The Kuz also scored a powerplay goal in the second period, slamming an Alex Ovechkin shot that had eeked past Semyon Varlamov over the goal line.
After the game, Kuznetsov thanked the Hockey Gods for giving him his mojo back.
“Like I said before, since beginning, I try to play the right game, I try to listen to coach, I try to learn some new stuff for me,” Kuznetsov said. “Sometimes you don’t have any goals, you don’t have any points, you can’t dangle anybody one-on-one, it’s sh*t. Sh*t happens sometimes. You have to keep working. The Hockey Gods will give back. Two games in a row, he help us a little bit with the goals. Like Ovi said, if you believe in your game you find your game you have to stay with it and stay focused.”
Kuzy also threw some subtle shade at Ian Cole.
“I don’t know why he decide to make that hit,” Kuznetsov said. “Maybe he so mad he was in the defensive zone all game. You get tired you get frustrated a little bit. All that matters is the two points today. I’m pretty sure we already forget about what happened tonight.”
The two-goal game was Kuzy’s 11th of his career. The center has four goals in the last six games. The game-winning goal is Kuznetsov’s second in the last four games.
— Byron J. Hudtloff (@ByronHudtloff) February 8, 2019
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