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game recap

Kuznetsov carries Capitals past Golden Knights

Forward has goal, three assists in Stanley Cup Final rematch

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a power-play goal and had three assists to help the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 win against the Vegas Golden Knights in a rematch of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final at Capital One Arena on Wednesday.

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and Braden Holtby made 29 saves for the Capitals, who defeated the Golden Knights in the Cup Final in five games.

"Right now for us, we just want to continue to play like that because it's fun," Ovechkin said. "It's fun to be out there."

 

[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Capitals highlights]

 

Cody Eakin and Reilly Smith scored for the Golden Knights, who have won once in their first four games this season.

"It's a long year and we have to figure out things quick," defenseman Shea Theodore said. "Our goal is from this road trip you want to be a .500 team, and when we're playing like this that's not going to happen."

Kuznetsov gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 19:25 of the first period when he redirected Nicklas Backstrom's pass for a power-play goal.

Video: VGK@WSH: Kuznetsov earns PPG on slick redirect

Ovechkin made it 2-0 at 10:18 of the second period. Kuznetsov pulled up on a 2-on-1 rush and then fed Ovechkin for a one-timer from the left face-off circle.

Eakin, who missed the Golden Knights' first three games because of a lower-body injury, scored 31 seconds later on a wraparound to make it 2-1 at 10:49 of the second.

Backstrom extended the lead to 3-1 at 5:08 of the third period on the power play when he redirected Kuznetsov's pass.

Smith answered at 12:52 of the third to make it 3-2 when he deflected a pass from Golden Knights defenseman Nick Holden.

Kuznetsov pushed the Capitals lead to 4-2 when he found Ovechkin on a 3-on-2 rush for a wrist shot past Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (24 saves).

Kuznetsov had four assists in Game 4 of the Cup Final on June 4.

"I think [Kuznetsov is] up there with the top five players in the League," Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said. "He just doesn't get the recognition for some reason. But you come watch a game, there's certain players that get people out of their seats and it's a joy to watch."

Video: VGK@WSH: Ovechkin nets two goals, passes Bobby Hull

Kuznetsov had the primary assist on each of Ovechkin's goals. With 611 NHL goals, Ovechkin passed Bobby Hull for 17th on the all-time list.

"I'm pretty sure that's free meal for us," Kuznetsov said. "[Ovechkin] hit the milestone every 10 games. It's pleasure to play with him. You may not understand right now but when you get older, you understand what kind of guy he is. He's one of the best players in probably whole history. He's gonna be in the Hall of Fame and maybe one of those pictures in Hall of Fame I'm gonna be somewhere around him just after we score."

The Golden Knights had a goal by forward Max Pacioretty overturned at 13:49 of the third period when replays determined Pacioretty entered the zone offside.

Oshie scored an empty-net goal at 18:55 of the third period to make it 5-2.

"I'm not making excuses, but I think we hit four goal posts tonight," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. "We've just got to get a little bit of puck luck and you get puck luck when you work hard and we've got to work harder."

 

They said it

"The score wasn't [equal] to the game that much. We hit a lot of posts, four. We had the puck a lot. That was probably one of our better games so far." -- Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury

"It's all about the skill. [Kuznetsov] knows when to pass. He knows when to shoot. Sometimes he tries to make crazy pass. You think, 'What's he doing?' But he [has] his own mind." -- Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin on Evgeny Kuznetsov

 

Need to know

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen got his 300th NHL point with an assist on Oshie's empty-net goal. … The Golden Knights are 1-2-0 on a five-game road trip and are without center Paul Stastny (lower body), who was placed on injured reserve before the game and returned to Las Vegas.

 

What's next

Golden Knights: At the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, SNE, SNO, ATTSN-PT, ATTSN-RM, NHL.TV)

Capitals: At the New Jersey Devils on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) 

Video: Capitals top Golden Knights in Cup Final rematch

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