Despite being on rival teams in the NHL, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Evgeni Malkin are good friends. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get cranky or mess with each other on the ice.
For instance, during a regular-season matchup in 2018, Malkin got ejected after screaming at Kuznetsov because, as Malkin explained later, “Kuzy spoke Russian” to him.
On Tuesday, Kuznetsov went to another level to annoy the second overall pick of the 2004 NHL Draft.
As warmups concluded, Kuznetsov took the Capitals’ goal off its moorings and turned it around towards the end boards. He did this so Malkin would be able to complete his pregame routine.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 23, 2021
You guys, it’s the game inside the game.
Malkin’s pregame superstition was described in an NHL.com story from 2018:
Speaking of clockwork, guys start heading to the locker room with about two minutes left. Malkin is the last to take the ice, and the last to leave. He stares up at the videoboard, watching the time tick down. At that point, head athletic trainer Chris Stewart leaves the bench and comes onto the ice.
Once the clock hits 0:00, Malkin takes a few strides, shoots a puck into the empty net, collects another one, and shoots it (relatively softly) at Stewart’s foot. It’s one of those things where Stewart said they don’t know when it started, it just started, and now they have to do it every single game.
Kuznetsov’s one-upmanship ultimately did not work. Malkin scored the game’s first goal 6:41 into the first period, which ended a four-game goalless streak for the Penguins’ center.
And Kuzy was on the ice (and literally feet away) for the overtime game-winning goal by Kasperi Kapanen.
But still, this was another entertaining twist to their friendship. Just like that one time they dressed up as mascots during a KHL game.
Screenshot courtesy of @Capitals
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