Evgeny Kuznetsov was benched in the third period of the Capitals-Flyers game after Scott Laughton’s second goal gave the Flyers a commanding 3-0 lead.
The first-line center blew his net-front coverage allowing Laughton a wide-open one-timer in the crease.
Kuzy also lost Travis Sanheim on his second-period goal.
Kuznetsov did not see the ice for the final 11:23 of the game and was not used when Todd Reirden pulled Braden Holtby for an extra man during the game’s final minutes.
All game, Kuznetsov struggled to get anything going. The Caps were nearly doubled up by the Flyers in shot attempts when Kuznetsov was on the ice (36 percent to 64), with his line putting up the worst numbers on the team. The Flyers generated more expected goals (according to Natural Stat Trick) against the top line than against any other forward trio.
Kuznetsov took a tripping penalty in the second period and won just two of his eight opportunities (25 percent) on the faceoff dot.
After the game, Reirden confirmed, in a roundabout way, that Kuznetsov’s benching was due to poor play.
“How we break down ice time and use certain guys, we’re going with who’s playing the best at that time,” Reirden said. “We need a different level of play we know we have it. It’s not a secret. We have a different level of play and we need to get to it if we want to have success. we need to have more from everybody and we didn’t have that.”
The Russian center did get nicked up early in the game. With about two minutes left in the first period, Kuznetsov got tangled up with Connor Bunnaman, with the Flyers forward falling on top of his left leg.
Evgeny Kuznetsov slow to get up and in pain after this awkward fall pic.twitter.com/2SGHpWm7so
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) August 6, 2020
Kuznetsov lay on the ice, holding his ankle as the officials called a delayed penalty (Bunnaman for the hold). Encouragingly, Kuznetsov promptly skated off the ice, but he did not play on the man advantage and left the bench before intermission began. He returned for the second period but could be seen flexing his leg at the bench.
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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