Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov will play in his first All-Star Game Sunday because his friend and mentor, Alex Ovechkin, opted out of the game Thursday night due to a lower-body injury. So what did Kuznetsov do to show his appreciation? During his second attempt in the All-Star Breakaway Challenge, Kuzy emulated Ovechkin’s magical moment with Evgeni Malkin at the 2009 All-Star Skills Competition in Montreal – with a few twists.

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Photo: NHL

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin became one of the most popular hockey players in the world partly due to his creativity in the NHL’s Breakaway Challenge over the years. He’s won the competition three times (2008, 2009, 2011). This is why Team Foligno picked him to compete again this year in Columbus. Unfortunately, he did not win.

While Ovechkin brought the creativity, he left his execution in Washington. His final attempt, where he took baseball swings at lob passes from fellow Russian Vladimir Tarasenko, was his most captivating.

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Caps prospect and cupake-connoisseur Evgeny Kuznetsov won this year’s KHL Breakaway Challenge by using some Ovechkin-esque moves on future NHL HOF goaltender Dominik Hasek. The video of it can be seen above. If I had to pick my own personal favorite breakaway, I’d choose Kuznetsov’s second attempt where he juggled the puck down the ice mid-air with his stick, threw it over Hasek’s head in reaction to The Dominator trying to tackle him, and then skated himself and the puck into the goal. All with only a spotlight on him! Kuzya, who also had a goal and four assists in Team Jagr’s 18-16 victory over Team Yashin, was the youngest player ever to play in the KHL All-Star Game at 18-years old. The future for this young Russian is certainly bright! The only question I have is: will Kuzya’s hot-streak ever end?

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