Ecenia Kuznetsova will sleep happy tonight.
Her dad, Evgeny Kuznetsov, scored his 20th goal of the season and the 100th of his career Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The last-minute game-tying goal sent one of the best hockey games of the Capitals’ season to overtime.
Kuzy brought back his signature bird celly to celebrate.
“Maybe my best game ever,” Kuznetsov said.
After combining to score six times in the second period, the Capitals and Lightning entered the third period separated by one goal. Tampa clung to a 4-3 lead.
In the following 19 minutes, the Capitals put 19 shots on goal and attempted 30 in total. Kuznetsov scored on the Caps’ final shot of the third period with 53 seconds remaining in regulation, whipping fans into a frenzy.
After Nicklas Backstrom dumped the puck behind the net and around the boards, Kuznetsov gathered in the biscuit just outside the right circle. He took the empty ice he was given and fired a shot through Andrei Vasilevskiy’s five hole.
Kuznetsov roared in delight. He then lifted his right leg and flapped his figurative wings until embracing John Carlson in a big hug.
The crowd went wild.
“This was fun game to play,” Kuznetsov said in the lockerroom. “I believe we play pretty well tonight. Just did not score (enough), but that’s better when you have chances and do not score, [than] play like a bad team and then end up winning. I can trade those types of games.”
While Kuznetsov has had bigger outings in terms of points — he tallied just one against the Lightning — the Russian center was prolific in terms of shots.
Kuzy fired nine shots on goal and had 12 shot attempts total. Six of those shots on goal came on the powerplay. The Capitals fired 58 shots on goal in total – the most since they had 50 against the Buffalo Sabres on December 29, 2013.
“Sometimes you feel good in the back to back, sometimes you feel tired,” Kuznetsov said. “It’s all different.”
Despite his big numbers, Kuznetsov still struggled defensively, posting a 39.9 shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 according to Natural Stat Trick.
Kuzy was asked if these games had any special meaning for the playoffs. “Maybe for the fans, people who like the trash talk,” Kuznetsov replied.
At the end of his interview, the second-line center shared a personal opinion.
The skater praised the ice crew for how good the Capital One Arena ice was despite, perhaps, some compelling evidence to the contrary in overtime.
The Capital One Arena ice should be the first star of tonight's game. It claimed two victims on the final play. pic.twitter.com/oVvMUILkSg
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 21, 2019
“I really want to say the last couple of months, we have been complaining about the ice,” Kuznetsov said. “But today the ice was pretty good. I wanna say thanks to those guys for fix it.”
A beat writer laughed.
“No, that’s not a joke. It’s not funny,” Kuznetsov said. “They take it personal… But today was good ice. You see results. We skate faster we play better. They did a great job.”
A Capitals spokesman then ended the interview.
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