After falling behind 2-0 to the Islanders in the first period, Kuzy rallied the team several minutes into the second, skating around the Isles defense’ and beating Semyon Varlamov to the far corner of the net. The goal opened the figurative flood gates for the Capitals as they unleashed a torrent of shots. Washington would score twice more — both goals were from captain Alex Ovechkin — and win 3-2. Game Five will be necessary and played on Thursday.
“Kuzy goal was huge for us,” Ovechkin said to the media afterward.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov talk to the media after a 3-2 win in Game 4 against the New York Islanders pic.twitter.com/eAWi4sVaZS
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) August 19, 2020
After struggling most of the series at five-on-five, the Capitals blanketed the Islanders in shot attempts at even strength (48-27) according to Natural Stat Trick.
Kuzy finished the night with a 60.6 shot-attempts percentage at 5v5 (20-13) and skated a Capitals team-high 22:42 for forwards. He had two points (1g, 1a), four shots, and two hits. Kuzy was so good that he was double-shifted by Capitals head coach Todd Reirden throughout and was even tasked with closing out the game in the final minute. He took over.
So what was the difference?
“I think we just stop thinking about the corsi or whatever that stat (is) and try to play fun hockey,” Kuznetsov said, hiding his bald head under a ball cap. “We try to hold on to the puck. That’s how we always play.
“I think, maybe I don’t understand the hockey, but I think that’s how we supposed to play,” Kuzy continued. “It’s not about the thousand shots. It’s about the possession. It’s about wearing them down. It’s about enjoying it and having the fun. That’s how we enjoy the game. If we enjoy the game like that we’re going to have success. If we’re not enjoying the game, we’re not going to have success.”
Kuznetsov’s thought process appears to be that since the Capitals held onto the puck for better looks, it allowed them to increase their possession and be more dangerous overall. And, at least in this game, it allowed them to have more shot attempts.
“We stopped shooting the puck and we started holding onto the puck,” Kuznetsov said. “We started enjoying the hockey again. That’s what give us success. I believe that it’s very hard to defend when guys wear you down for 45 seconds, 50 seconds. Maybe we don’t shoot a lot of pucks but at the same time, we give respect to our line-mates. We share the puck. That’s maybe not the NHL typical hockey, but that’s how we supposed to play. If we going to play like that, we’re going to have joy, we’re going to have fun, and we’re going to have success.”
Fun Hockey is the chicken, and Corsi is the egg
— Redcoatdad24 (@toddrpollock) August 19, 2020
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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