Photo credit: Alexey Kudenko/RIA Novosti

On Thursday, Washington Capitals top prospect and perpetual flip-flopper Evgeny Kuznetsov played in Russia’s first game of the EuroHockeyTour, a four-stage European tournament held every year between Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. Team Russia shut out Sweden 2-0 in front of a sold-out crowd at St. Petersburg’s Ice Hall.

While Kuznetsov continues to infuriate Caps fans (and us Russians) over his answers on when and whether he’ll actually leave Russia, his skill is undeniable. Today, he scored the game-winning goal, had five shots, and was probably the best player on the ice for either team.

Despite limited ice time on Russia’s third line with Egor Averin and Sergey Plotnikov, Kuznetsov created chances almost every shift, showing off speed and agility not normally present this early in the season.

His goal, the first of the game, came with just under 13 minutes to go in the third period. After skating around the Swedish defenders, Kuznetsov fired a deceptive wrist shot past former Flames goalie Henrik Karlsson, low and short-side. We’ve got video.

I’ve also compiled video of Kuznetsov’s better chances from the game. Notice his tenacious forechecking during the waning minutes of the third period to kill time. Then, after a Swedish player gets too rough with him along the boards, Alex Burmistrov starts a fight.

Russia’s next game will be Saturday against Finland.

  • Props to Fedor for compiling this highlight video of Kuzya from the game. A lot of people complain to us — when he waffles about coming to the NHL — that he’s not worth the trouble. We would like to prove those people wrong.

  • yv

    Kuzya missing a lot for not playing already with Caps in line with Ovi-Backstrom-Kuzya. That could be practically no doubt the deadliest line in NHL. He could raked so many points that easily beat many bonus requirements for his maximal entry-level contract plus ROY award. Close to what Ovi did when he was rookie at 20 – 52g, 106p, at 21 -46g, 92p at 22 – 65g, 112p, while Kuzya will possibly only start at 22 in NHL.

  • yv

    Before blaming Caps and GMGM, people should check in Wiki on 2010 draft selection on Caps 26th and lower positions until next Caps selection. Besides 29th E.Etem by ANA and 37th J. Faulk by CAR, there are practically all currently still unknown in NHL players. So Kuz selection at 26 was in reality no-brainer, lower risk/loss -huge potential rewards.

  • Freedoooom

    The way he can change directions reminds me so much of Coffey.

  • Owen Johnson

    I refuse to be excited about him until I see him in a Cap’s sweater.
    Exhibit A: Forsberg, Filip.

  • That was painful for me too.

  • Fedor

    Notice that 3 of 4 chances came to Kuz off the left wing. He plays RW, but he’s a left-handed player and there’s little doubt Oates would want him on the left side. I’m somewhat concerned about it, but Kuzya is showing he knows how to attack from both wings.

  • Kuz-nyet-sov

    He’s gotta bury those. But I like that he’s driving hard to the net.

  • ScottC

    Does he always leap into the boards like Ovi, or is that a new thing?

  • He’s done it in the past. It’s in his repertoire of goal celebrations, but he doesn’t do it all the time.

  • yv

    IT is, at-last, Caps day in NHL site, an the last phrase by McPhee at the end of the Masisak’s article, related to Caps prospects, about Kuzya is one of the most encouraging one I heard for a while:
    …”He’s indicated to us that he’s definitely coming over, so we do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and he indicated that as recently as two weeks ago,” McPhee said. “We’re hoping we see him late this season and that he is as good as advertised.”

    Overall all articles are so very positive about Caps and comments of TOR fans about Grabo are really as positives as they could be.

  • It is encouraging. But keep in mind (unfortunately), that quote from McPhee came a few weeks ago before Kuznetsov said this

  • yv

    GMGM comments of two weeks mentioning placing RMNB one week later and probably give some chill to him. With Kuz mastering of minds and pockets already at young age you never know, what’s left is to rely on his unreliable ‘definitely..’.

  • Jay

    Great, now come to Washington… Do it… Do it now.