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Over the weekend, Alex Ovechkin brought his sick handles and gold number 8 necklace to the basketball court for a good cause. The Russian machine participated in the Step Forward Foundation’s charity basketball game for the second year in a row to help raise money for kids with cerebral palsy. The game was held at Moscow’s Dynamo Palace of Sports.

Ovechkin captained the green team, which was named “Together We Are Brighter” and coached by two-time Olympic gold medalist and his mother, Tatyana Ovechkina.

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The Russian National Team remained undefeated Tuesday with the Caps trioka — Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov — on the roster. Russia beat Team Sweden 4-1 to finish second in Group A.

But the victory didn’t come without a scare – especially for Caps fans. In the second period, Evgeny Kuznetsov absorbed a dangerous hit from Swedish center Mikael Backlund as he skated into the offensive zone. Kuznetsov, who did not have the puck, was hit the head and shoulder by Backlund. Kuznetsov, woozy, needed help to get off the ice, but returned several minutes later after applying ice on the bench.

Team Russia head coach Oleg Znarok commented briefly on the play in his post-game press conference.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

Humble af Evgeny Kuznetsov spoke with SovSport’s Natalia Bragilevskaya after the Capitals closed out their first-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday. He addressed a topic likely to dominate media conversations over the next week: the Caps’ past playoff failures. Many of those disappointments have come against the Pittsburgh Penguins, whom the Caps will face in the second round.

Kuznetsov wanted to get ahead of that talk now.

“You mention the previous century – but of those people, who is still playing?” Kuznetsov asks. “That’s history, nobody cares about it.”

“The guys in Pittsburgh are the same people – two legs, two arms, one head,” Kuznetsov added.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Photo: Elsa

Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first goal in 22 games. It was a gift from the Hockey Gods. Kuznetsov scored after a Justin Williams dump-in took a strange bounce off the boards. The puck ricocheted to Kuznetsov, who was skating alone towards the front of the net. Using sublime patience, Kuznetsov tucked the puck past Steve Mason’s outstretched pad, giving the Caps a back-breaking 3-1 third period lead.

Several minutes later, Kuznetsov was on the ice when he saw his friend, Dmitry Orlov, get shoved headfirst into the boards by Pierre-Édouard Bellemare. As Orlov received medical attention on the bench, a Flyers fan threw a bracelet from the stands, striking Orly in the left cheek.

In the locker room, Kuznetsov conducted a Russian-language interview with SovSport’s Natalia Bragilevskaya and spoke about how the game turned into a sideshow in the third period.

“No fan would be happy when his team is losing,” Kuznetsov said. “That’s how it happened, but it is on their conscience. Our fans have more class.”

Kuznetsov also seemed to be genuinely touched and heart-broken by the pre-game ceremony honoring Flyers owner Ed Snider.

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Monday night at Wells Fargo Center, Dmitry Orlov became the target of the Philadelphia Flyers’ rage, as Pierre-Édouard Bellemare sent the Caps defenseman headfirst into the boards. As Orlov received medical attention on the bench, a Flyers fan threw a bracelet from the stands, striking Orly in the left cheek. Although bloodied, Orlov remained in the game and later assisted on a power-play goal by Jay Beagle, making the final score 6-1.

In the locker room, Orlov conducted a Russian-language interview with SovSport’s Natalia Bragilevskaya and spoke about how the game turned into a sideshow in the third period.

“Sometimes you just want to get the puck,” Orlov said. “But when they play dirty against you, that’s not hockey. I don’t even know what to call it. I don’t want to talk about it.”

Orlov confirmed he was “fine,” but said he’d prefer the Caps not “prolong this series.”

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Photo: Jonathan Daniel

Earlier this week, we published a partial translation of an Evgeny Kuznetsov interview with Igor Rabiner of Sport-Express. Kuzy spoke about his ‘close’ friendship with Alex Ovechkin, how the team celebrated Ovi’s 500th goal, and how important the Stanley Cup is to him.

In the second part of the interview, Kuznetsov speaks about his affinity for Barry Trotz.

“I don’t think this coach will allow us to relax,” Kuznetsov says of Trotz. “He straightens you out very quickly. And our team has character, we won’t let ourselves take it easy. We work hard every practice, not to mention the games. We are very comfortable within our team off ice, and everybody works hard in training.

Kuznetsov and Rabiner also talks about Ovechkin’s leadership inside the locker room.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Photo: Jonathan Daniel

During the Caps’ West Coast road swing earlier this month, center Evgeny Kuznetsov met up with Igor Rabiner of Sport-Express. Their conversation was fascinating.

Kuznetsov speaks about his ‘close’ friendship with Alex Ovechkin, how the team celebrated Ovi’s 500th goal, and if it’s important to him to be the top-scoring Russian in the NHL. Hint: it’s not.

“Maybe getting points is nice, but I would gladly trade them all for a chance to play in the Stanley Cup final,” Kuznetsov said. “And I believe any player would say the same. Honestly.”

Kuznetsov and Rabiner also spoke about Ovechkin’s prediction that his protege will one day score 40 goals in the NHL.

Igor Kleyner has your translation.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

During a wide-ranging interview with Igor Rabiner of Sports-Express , Barry Trotz talked about what it’s like to coach four Russians and one of the best players in the history of the game.

Trotz touched on how Alex Ovechkin can hold onto his unique scoring touch — and if he does, get “very close” to Wayne Gretzky’s goal-scoring record.

“Can he do it? Yes,” Trotz said. “But as he gets older, Alex will need to pay even more attention to every little hockey detail, starting with post-game recovery. But Ovechkin is a special athlete, an extraordinary talent. He has a gift from above to score goals.”

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Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes, Evgeny Kuznetsov made some nice sauce, registering his league-leading 37th primary assist of the season on Alex Ovechkin’s OTGWG. The point was Kuznetsov’s 70th on the year, making him the 12th player in Caps history to register 20 goals and 50 assists in a season. Kuznetsov’s 70 points also leads the Capitals.

If the Chelyabinsk native ends the year on top, he would be the first Capital not named Ovechkin or Backstrom to lead the team in scoring since 2003-04 when Robert Lang put up 70 points. Kuznetsov’s dominant play this season is a far cry from his initial struggles during parts of his first two seasons in the league.

Earlier this week, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz spoke to Igor Rabiner of Sports-Express about Kuznetsov’s growth as a player, and he revealed his master plan for turning Kuzy into the next Pavel Datsyuk.

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Photo: Sanford Myers

In a month, the Washington Capitals will likely end the season as the NHL’s best team with a home-ice advantage through the Stanley Cup playoffs. One of the team’s biggest contributors is Nicklas Backstrom. Sunday, Expressen’s Magnus Nystrom released a long feature on the aforementioned Backstrom, featuring exclusive interviews with the Caps first-line center and his family.

We learn that while Backstrom is stubborn, he’s also becoming even more comfortable as a leader — even with captain Alex Ovechkin.

“[Ovi’s] the guy I’ve yelled at the most,” Backstrom said to Nystrom, explaining the two teammates hold each other to a high standard. “We’ve played together every year I’ve been here, often on the same line and I’m the guy he’s yelled most at too. We’ve had real arguments on the bench where we have stood and barked at each other.”

Backstrom also shares his thoughts on his nightmare in Sochi, fighting his older brother in games, and his daughter Hayley.

“[She] is the best thing that happened to my life,” Backstrom said.

Magnus Cadelin has your translation.

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