Of all the ways Evgeny Kuznetsov could have scored his first career NHL goal, the way it ultimately unfolded seemed unlikely.
With the Capitals trailing by one in the final minute of regulation, John Carlson was whistled for hooking Mike Richards. At the outset of the penalty kill, Eric Fehr beat Jeff Carter on a defensive zone faceoff, allowing Dmitry Orlov to push the play up ice and for Washington to pull Jaroslav Halak in favor of an extra attacker.
Orlov dumped the puck below the Kings’ goal line where Fehr won it back from the visitors and sent it out in front to Alex Ovechkin – the extra skater – as he cut through the ice.
Ovechkin’s shot reached Jonathan Quick, who had aggressively come out to the top of his crease to challenge the shot, but the Los Angeles netminder doesn’t smother the puck and it trickled out into the blue paint behind him.
Kuznetsov was in perfect position in front of the net to see the puck as it came loose from the goaltender and swatted it into the open cage for a shorthanded goal that tied the contest with 41.5 seconds remaining in regulation and forced overtime.
It might not have been a highlight reel individual effort, but it was exactly the greasy goal the Capitals needed at the time.
“It was a big goal, it actually got us a point,” Coach Adam Oates said. “I’m sure they relaxed just a little and it’s a weird situation. Sometimes those go in. It’s a big goal for him and us it gets us a point.”
Ovechkin fished the puck out of the cage for safe keeping, but despite the significance of the goal and the eventual point, players who spoke in the post-game dressing room were more focused on the point that got away.
“It’s important for us, it’s important for him,” Ovechkin said. “It’s a good memory, it’s going to be for his whole life. Unfortunately we didn’t take two points but we take one.”