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Photo: Alex Brandon

With 42 seconds left in the Capitals’ 4-0 win over Chicago, Jay Beagle skated to the bench looking for a change. He had been on the ice for three shifts in the last four minutes. His teammates, however, were adamant that he stay on the ice. But finally, after Beagle crawled over the bench wall, Eric Fehr stepped on for the final shift.

“I felt bad for him because I knew how tired he was,” Fehr told me. “I could see it in his eyes. He doesn’t get that look very often. He was begging to come off. I took a second and evaluated it and figured I better go.”

Said Beagle of his reaction: “I said “’I’m not! I’m not staying on. I can’t even move my legs anymore!”

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Photo: Kathy Kmonicek

Sometimes Washington Capitals forward Marcus Johansson struggles to finish in front of the net. Example: last night in the third period against the New Jersey Devils where Mojo , wide open in the crease, hit Cory Schneider right in the pads instead of lifting the puck up and over. The Capitals would lose 2-1.

The next day, Mojo flubbed another easy goal, but this time against the New York Islanders. No worries. Evgeny Kuznetsov cleaned up his mess.

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This could not come at a better time. Once and future Caps forward Brooks Laich starred in a segment with Cabbie Richards of TSN called “Five Things Every Man Should Know.” Guest-starring Dustin Penner and Evgeny Kuznetsov– as girls, the video teaches you (not me) everything you (not me) need to know about how to be a manly man.

Brooks guides us (you mostly) through the vagaries of manly tasks we (you) so often get wrong. It’s indispensable viewing: instructive, entertaining, has nothing to do with the Caps’ season, and features D.P. and Kuzya as girls.

Enjoy.

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The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

BruceBennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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In Narrative Land, the biggest story in the hockey world today was Adam Oates calling out Alex Ovechkin for quitting on the play that resulted in a third period goal for the Dallas Stars. But c’mon, it was already 3-0 at that point. How much would one more goal hurt? Other than, ya know, emotionally.

The hockey media went all out covering the living ish out of this quote. How would Ovechkin react to being literally thrown under a literal bus by his head coach? By driving his six-figure price-tag car to Georgetown and shopping at the Nike Store with his two Russian bros.

So I guess Ovi’s not exactly devastated by his coach’s heel turn.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov Scores Unlikely Goal in Final Minute

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The Capitals sort of played a stinker against the Boston Bruins. There was precious little to enjoy about the game: a couple flashy saves by Braden Holtby, Jason Chimera crashing the net, maybe Ian rocking the spandex with the Brouwer Rangers. Thanks to the game’s final minute, we can add one more to that list: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s stinger of a goal.

Seemingly defeated by Carl Soderberg’s insurance goal with seven minutes left, the Caps struggled to put together any kind of offensive push in the closing minutes of rego. Troy Brouwer made one such push, but the Bruins D tied him up. That play looked like it would fizzle like so many others against Boston.

Enter the New Guy.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov

Photo: Chris Gordon

The Washington Capitals spent about 20 minutes Thursday morning posing for pictures with cute animals, both domestic and wild, and then proceeded to a grueling practice session featuring something that looked suspiciously like a bag skate.

After almost an hour and a half on the ice, the players started trickling in to the locker room. Some of the guys, though, stayed on the ice a bit longer, including Dmitry Orlov, Mikhail Grabovski, and the latest addition to the Capitals roster, Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Russian-speaking troika remained on the ice, enjoying a game of King of the Hill on the center circle.

Finally, the Russian rookie and his buddies made their way to their locker room stalls, where he patiently answered RMNB’s questions until no stone was left unturned in the first chapter of what hopefully will be Kuzya’s long tenure in a red jersey with #92 on the back.

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This illustration will make sense at the bottom. I promise.

By all accounts, Evgeny Kuznetsov’s move to North America has been a success, both on and off the ice. Eight games in, the young Russian has managed a three assist game, scored twice in the shootout, and on Tuesday night scored his first NHL goal.

Kuzya has surprised us with his command of English and his willingness to interact with the media despite of limited language skills. Also, let’s not forget Zhenya’s love of social media, especially Instagram. Imagine how boring our lives would be without his baby pictures and Ovi doing pushups. So what if the captions are in Russian.

Google Translate is on the case.

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maria-ovi-kuznetsov

Photo: @a0gr8

His mother Tatyana won two Olympic gold medals in basketball for Team Russia, so Alex Ovechkin has always had a love for the sport. He’s gone to Dynamo basketball games. He’s been featured playing basketball (shirtless, of course) with his friends in his DVD. He’s even shot around with BFF Nicky Backstrom during one of Bruce Boudreau’s press conferences.

On Wednesday night, on his day off, Ovechkin took fiancee Maria Kirilenko and his new best bud in the whole wide world, Evgeny Kuznetsov, to the Wizards/Suns game at Verizon Center.

It appears they had fun.

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With forty-five seconds left in regulation and the Washington Capitals shorthanded and sans a goalie, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored one of the biggest goals of the season. Certainly the biggest of his career– seeing as it was his first. After Alex Ovechkin unleashed a rushed shot from the point, Kuzya did the dirty work in front of the net, backhanding the loose puck past Jonathan Quick. Game tied 4-4.

The goal set off a wild celebration among fans and players– with the exception of one guy, who had some captainly duties to perform.

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