ovechkin-goal-kings

Photo: Stephen Dunn

While his overall possession still needs some improving, Evgeny Kuznetsov has been putting up points and delivering juicy apples since the All-Star Break ended. On Saturday Kuznetsov did it again against the defending champion Kings.

With Jake Muzzin playing him perfectly, Kuznetsov tossed the puck over Muzzin’s stick and back to himself. He carved hard to the middle of the ice where he found an Alex Ovechkin open and waiting.

All Ovi needed was a few inches of space to beat Jonathan Quick for his 34th goal of the year and the 456th of his career.

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ovechkin-brouwer

Even when Alex Ovechkin doesn’t get a perfect pass into his wheelhouse during the power play, The Ovi Spot is still kind to him. After muffing a pass from Nicklas Backstrom, the puck ricocheted off the dasher boards and right back onto the blade of his stick. Ovechkin put the puck flat on the ice and fired at the net.

Troy Brouwer, who apparently is wearing his Cloak of Awesome tonight, perfectly redirected it past by Antti Niemi.

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Right on the nose!

Evgeny Kuznetsov got high-sticked by Michael Del Zotto during a power play late in the second period. The impact was so violent that it almost ripped off Kuzy’s helmet.

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nisky-fight

Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen had seven career NHL fights and had yet to drop the gloves at all this season before Sunday’s game. He’s a tough player but not a fighter. On Sunday, Niskanen agreed to exchange punches with Flyers forward Scott Laughton.

Niskanen dropped the hammer, just like he did a few weeks ago.

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brouwer-dive

Troy Brouwer just used some hustle to create one of the most unlikely goals of the season. After a turnover in the offensive zone, Brouwer dove and reached out with his stick. Brouwer managed to steal the puck from a Ducks player and sweep it back into the zone before it crossed the blue line, which would have put his team offsides.

The puck went right to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuzy and Jason Chimera raced against Ilya Bryzgalov on a two-on-none. The Russian winger passed to Ice Cheetah, who buried it in Bryz’s five-hole.

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ovi-baseball-goal

Alex Ovechkin nearly tore the roof off Nationwide Arena on All-Star Weekend by using his hockey stick as a baseball bat. He failed to connect three times during the Breakaway Challenge, but this Thursday night against Ottawa Ovechkin did it in a actual freaking game.

This is incredible.

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Alex Ovechkin Is Basically Invincible (GIF)

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I often marvel at Alex Ovechkin‘s steely strength. In Ottawa tonight we got another example of his nigh-invulnerability. After checking Erik Karlsson from behind and away from the puck, the Senators defended their fallen captain’s honor.

That was their mistake.

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varly-sassin-it-up

Remember when we would share laughs when Braden Holtby out-sassed opponents? Those nights are rarer now that the Holtbeast, under the tutelage of Mitch Korn, has found inner-peace.

Former Capital goalie Semyon Varlamov, however: not so much.

Under insane head coach Patrick Roy, Varly is a fierce mama bear in net. When Tom Wilson came uninvited into the blue paint a month back, Varlamov punched Wilson right in the face. Against Dallas on Tuesday, Varly would have none of Vernon Fiddler’s stick-poking.

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mike-green-big-hit-bench

For anyone who has ever called Mike Green “soft,” the apology line forms to the left.

Late in the third period, after the Caps had a 4-0 lead, Green put an exclamation point on the Caps’ victory over the defending Cup champions by checking Kyle Clifford into the Caps bench.

Look at this and marvel.

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ovechkin-doughty-laugh

Alex Ovechkin and Drew Doughty are two of the best and most physically imposing players in the NHL. They’ve been matched up against each other every shift tonight. It’s been a fun battle to watch from home. They seem to be enjoying it too.

Midway through the second period, Doughty knocked Ovechkin over with a cross-check.

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