As the Capitals wrapped up their 3-1 win over Calgary Tuesday night, things were just heating up in a semifinal game between Russia and Canada in the world junior hockey championships.
Russia hung on for a 6-5 victory over the Canadians, thanks in part to a hat trick by Washington prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov.
All told, Kuznetsov finished the night with four points – three goals and an assist – and helped Russia carry a 6-1 lead into the third period. While the Canadians nearly completed the comeback, Russia managed to capture the win and advance to face Sweden in the gold medal game on Thursday.
A 2010 first-round draft pick and the most highly touted prospect in the Capitals’ organization, Kuznetsov has six goals and 13 points in the tournament. Kuznetsov’s points have come from just two games Tuesday night’s win over Canada and Russia’s 14-0 drubbing of Latvia on Dec. 29, when he posted nine.
After Kuznetsov’s performance against Latvia, General Manager George McPhee discussed the 19-year-old’s future. Kuznetsov cannot play with the Capitals this season because it is prohibited by the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement.
“He should be here next year. He’s ready to play here and he needs to play in a better league,” McPhee said on Dec. 30. “Sometimes when you’re not playing at the highest level you can develop bad habits. We don’t want that stuff to become engrained — so get him to the best league you can and get working with him.”
If you missed that previous post with McPhee’s full comments on Kuznetsov check it out here.