Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his ninth goal of the season and nabbed a pretty assist in Traktor’s 3-2 win today over Vladimir Tarasenko and Sibir Novosibirsk.
Before the game, all eyes were on 19-year-old superstars Kuznetsov and Tarasenko, who played together on last year’s gold medal winning World Junior Championship team. Considered two of Russia’s finest young talents, they both played on Russia’s National Team already, were drafted in the first round of the 2010 NHL entry draft, and are among the KHL’s league leaders in goals.
Andrey Osadchenko, whom you may know in North America for the vlog he does with Steve Dangle called Joining the Rush, wrote a piece on Allhockey.ru about the meaning of today’s game.
Despite the fact that they have already played on different club teams, we’re used to thinking of them as of a single unit, the personification of Russia’s hockey future. Not the immediate future – a distant future. It has been made clear they’ll be great players, but when? Knock-knock, wake up citizens – the future is now!
Of course, Tarasenko and Kuznetsov won’t play each other for the first time, they’re not rookies in the KHL. But today they’ll hit the ice not as “young and promising”, not as “our bright tomorrow”. Today, they are the stars of the show.
Video of Kuznetsov’s goal and assist. At the end, Evgeny is also shown embracing Vladimir Tarasenko after the game with fellow 2011 WJC teammember Anton Burdasov.
Today Kuznetsov’s star shone brighter than Tarasenko’s. With eight minutes to go in the third and the game tied 1-1, Kuzya patiently held onto the puck and found defenseman Deron Quint for an easy powerplay goal. If you look closely at the video, you’ll notice Kuznetsov curls and drags the puck for several seconds– freezing both the penalty killers and the goalie– before setting up Quint for a lay-up. Unbelievable!
This goal, however, wasn’t enough as Sibir tied the game at two with less than three minutes to go. Kuznetsov needed only 13 seconds to take the lead back for Traktor as he was hooked down to the ice on a breakaway and awarded a penalty shot. Kuzya easily scored and Traktor went on to win 3-2.
His ninth goal of the year today puts Kuznetsov only one tally behind Roman Cervenka in the KHL scorers race and ties him ironically enough with Tarasenko for second place. Also, the goal was his fourth game-winner of the season and gave him the lead in this category.
One final interesting note, this was Kuznetsov’s first game of the year in which he played more than 18 minutes and scored (he played 19:25 tonight). Earlier, all eight of his markers came in games where he played less than that.
A few days ago, both Tarasenko and Kuznetsov were named to the Russian National extended roster team for the Karjala Cup, one of four tournaments in the EuroHockeyTour which features the Russian, Czech, Finnish, and Swedish National teams.
Finally, if you visit the KHL’s website, you’ll notice a banner in which they are promoting Traktor and Amur Khabarovsk’s game on Thursday (8AM EST). Featured on it? None other than Kuznetsov and Amur’s Jakub Petruzalek.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland.