With the Edmonton Oilers making a trip to the Nation's Capital on Sunday night, there's one Capitals player who is chomping at the bit for the puck to drop at 7 p.m. That player is Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has had measureable success against the Oilers.
In just seven career matchups against the Oilers, Kuznetsov has tallied five goals and two assists. His five goals are tied for the most he's scored against one opponent in his career, with the other being the New Jersey Devils, who he's played twice as many times.
"I always play well in Edmonton because I think I have good karma up there, but I don't think about it too much on our home ice," Kuznetsov said. "They're a great team, and for whatever reason I seem to have great success against them."
In addition to the big offensive games that Kuznetsov has had against Edmonton in the past, like his five-point explosion against the Oilers in 2015, and his two-goal game in the 5-2 win on Oct. 28, the Chelyabinsk, Russia native has been up to the task in helping to shut down Oilers star center and reigning Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid.
In the Capitals' 2-1 win over Edmonton last February, Kuznetsov played a big role in keeping McDavid in check as the two were matched up on each team's top line. In that matchup against McDavid and the Oilers' high-octane top line, Kuznetsov had a 54.2 shot-attempt-percentage (19 shot attempts for, 16 against).
"We got contributions through our whole lineup, and I thought Kuzy was fantastic," said Capitals head coach Barry Trotz back in February. "He was the best player on the ice. The way he played tonight he could have had four or five points for sure."
Playing in matchups against the best players in the League is something that Kuznetsov relishes, and that'll be no different tonight as the Capitals look to shut down McDavid and company once again.
"We have a plan when we play against any big stars in the league," Kuznetsov said. "I always enjoy playing against those type of guys. It's no secret [McDavid's] one of the best in the league, if not the best. We play hockey for these kind of moments."