Last season in Toronto, Alex Ovechkin teased Evgeny Kuznetsov during his interview with reporters. “I score big goal,” Ovechkin yelled in bad English.

Ovechkin — fresh off his 900th point — was at it again Tuesday night.

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The Caps are even with the the Flames at the end of the first period thanks to this monster play by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky.

This is nuts.

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Nicklas Backstrom returned to the line-up on Saturday after missing the first three games of the season due to hip surgery. But Nicky didn’t immediately return to his customary first-line center spot next to Alex Ovechkin. Instead he centered the second line with Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson.

That was partly because Barry Trotz wanted to bring Backstrom along slowly, but also because Evgeny Kuznetsov, the Caps’ third-year center, has been playing well with Ovechkin and TJ Oshie so far.

“Right now it’s going to be static,” Trotz said Saturday when asked about the first and second line center position. “There’s nothing wrong with the Ovi, Oshie, and Kuzy line. That gives us lots of flexibility.”

While Kuznetsov has only two assists and four shots through his first four games, he’s authored several mind-boggling plays in the offensive zone. There was that give-and-go pass with Ovechkin against Chicago that resulted in an Ovechkin goal, then there were these two sick dishes against the Hurricanes.

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The Ovechpunch

In the game’s final moment, Evgeny Kuznetsov wrecked Carolina Hurricanes’ forward Kris Versteeg at center ice with a legal shoulder check into the boards. (Let’s ignore the fact the referees called a boarding minor on Kuzy. They weren’t on their game tonight.)

Versteeg, probably already pissed that his team was getting outplayed, did not appreciate the hit. He decided to deliver some frontier justice. As Kuznetsov skated over, Versteeg swung his stick at Kuznetsov like he was trying to hit a game-winning homer. Tsk tsk.

In the education industry, they call this a “teachable moment.” Versteeg’s hockey professor was Alex Ovechkin.

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Photo: Geoff Burke

Early in the summer, the Caps revealed that Nicklas Backstrom had hip surgery. Despite leading the league in assists, it was an issue that plagued Backstrom all season long. Without the Swede, we assumed the Caps first line would struggle. Over the first two games, especially after Alex Ovechkin was scratched on Tuesday, the line couldn’t find its voice. However, against the Blackhawks, the trio of Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and TJ Oshie was an offensive force. Members of the line contributed two goals and five points on Thursday, leading the Caps to a 4-1 victory. Now head coach Barry Trotz may keep them together even after Backstrom returns.

“They’ve got some chemistry,” Trotz said after the game. “I think what happens with a line is it needs some time to talk things out. I think that there’s a mutual respect. I think that they’re just learning each other.”

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Nicklas Backstrom may return this weekend from hip surgery, but Evgeny Kuznetsov is making his case for top-line pivot, as crazy as that sounds. In 20:15 of ice time, Kuznetsov showed poise with the puck and was a forechecking demon. He finished the game a plus-two in on-ice shot attempts (17 for, 15 against) for a 53.12 percent shot-attempt percentage at even strength.

Kuznetsov also tallied the primary assist on TJ Oshie‘s first goal as a Capital, a power-play marker. And this insane highlight-reel goal by Alex Ovechkin.

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Our favorite interviewer of barely comprehensible Russian Caps, CSN Washington’s Jill Sorenson, is back in action with another dispatch from the language barrier. In a segment titled “Questions For Kuzy,” Jill drills Evgeny Kuznetsov with tough questions — like what’s your favorite TV show.

Kuznetsov struggles through every answer, but his priceless facial expressions more than make up for that.

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Alex Ovechkin’s Two Goals Against the Islanders


Photo: @washcaps

(I’m not going to spend too much time on this because the Islanders were playing their B-team and hadn’t played in six days.)

The Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Sunday. Alex Ovechkin scored two power play goals and they were both gr8 shots from The Ovi Spot.

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Photos: Amanda Bowen

On Tuesday afternoon, the Capitals celebrated all twelve months of the year with Homeward Trails’ Animal Rescue dogs for the 2015-16 Caps Canine Calendar. Each month had its own silly theme based on a season or holiday, with the players and dogs dressed accordingly.

Here’s a quick preview: Caps roomies Tom Wilson and Michael Latta celebrated Valentine’s Day by putting roses in their mouth for February; Braden Holtby wore a sombrero and poncho for Cinco de Mayo; and Karl Alzner dressed in a skin-tight skeleton costume with his dogs for Halloween in October.

January models Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson had problems. By the time the photographer was ready for them, the puppies they were carrying fell asleep in their arms. Adorable, but improvisation was needed. The New Years theme became “falling asleep before midnight.” After two rounds of throwing balloons, the crew tried popping confetti champagne bottles that startled the two pups awake in the middle of the take. The Swedes handled it well: with many puppy kisses.

After the main sets, the photographer did sessions with the player families that wanted their own set of photos. #SquadGoals.

Prepare yourself for enormous amounts of adorable. We can’t wait to buy this calendar.

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Over Analyzing Lines On the Third Day of Camp


Photo: Amanda Bowen

Let me be clear: I don’t care about the preseason of any sport, not even hockey. Takeaways from preseason are often worthless, for a wide variety of reasons. Intersquad scrimmages are even further down the ladder of things we should care about and read into. And, considering line combinations aren’t worth getting worked up about on a day-to-day basis during the season, no one should read much into lines from a scrimmage at training camp.

But let’s do it anyway.

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