Goalless no more, Kuznetsov hopes Caps can pick up momentum originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The 30-year-old never went more than seven games without a goal in 2021/22, summing up a year of his career playing alongside him. Alex Ovechkin in the top line of the Capitals. The Washingtons are even more reliant on him this season. injuries accumulate. However, in 12 games, Kuznetsov was the only forward on the team to not score in at least five games.
“I think there are things that happen throughout the year where you go through a few games and don’t score goals but still play,” head coach Peter Laviolette said on the pre-game morning skate. “It will come to him eventually. He throws the puck and tries to get the puck to the net. It hasn’t gone his way so far. I think they will fall eventually.”
He still had seven assists, so Kuznetsov did not create chances. But with capitals going through sinking into resentment compared to their previous six games leading up to their date with Connor McDavid and the Oilers, they needed an experienced center to energize.
Kuznetsov woke up his stick by hitting twice on the powerplay and adding two assistants to lead the Capitals to victory. impressive 5-4 win over the Oilers. It was the eighth four-point game of his career and the first since February 11, 2019 against the Los Angeles Kings. After the game, he joked that he scored enough goals to last for a while.
“Yes, I am ready to play 10 more games,” Kuznetsov said, laughing.
His big night was a reflection of the Capitals’ ability to play the vertical hockey style that brought them such success during the Ovechkin era. Most of the teams Washington have faced this season have had them shooting and chasing—passing the puck ahead of their fielders and trying to get it deeper into the attacking zone.
Kuznetsov puts in his best game when the Capitals take the puck into the zone, and he showed up on the receiving end of an Ovechkin pass between the legs at the end of the third period.
“This was the first game we didn’t play closed teams in the neutral zone,” Laviolette said at the post-match press conference. “We were able to create some speed through rushing and having the puck instead of just keeping it behind them. So I think when he plays like that, he’s better when he’s got the puck, he distributes the ball, he looks and he attacks with speed.”
The win also snapped the Capitals’ four-game losing streak just in time for a rendezvous with rival Pittsburgh Penguins, who have lost eight games in a row but will play Wednesday on a four-day rest. Washington didn’t go a single day without a game from October 24-26, and won’t do so until November 20-22.
With mounting injuries, disappointing results, and a relentless schedule, the Capitals have already run into a fair amount of trouble this season. Kuznetsov’s lack of goals may have been the epitome of that struggle. Now that he’s got that out of the way, he’s hoping the team can start picking up momentum too.
“Definitely, tomorrow morning will be better than the previous eight in the morning,” Kuznetsov said. “I felt we were playing well but not well enough to win lately but this win will give us a lot of breath and we can breathe a little bit and the coaches will finally be able to show us some positives because that’s important when you come in the next morning and look at those mistakes instead.
“We can see some positive things and I hope that after this game we will definitely build our game, because this is a pretty good team, and I felt that even when we give up on a goal, we never give up. We were always positive on the bench, we always supported each other because we were missing a lot of guys, a lot of D guys, and they stepped up today.”