Capitals fans had to fear the worst when Evegeny Kuznetsov left the ice in pain Wednesday night during Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final, but there was a glimmer of good news ahead of Saturday’s Game 3.
Kuznetsov was on the ice during the Capitals’ optional practice Friday and participated in some drills. Coach Barry Trotz told reporters afterwards that the center has not been medically cleared to play and will be a “game-time decision” Saturday night.
Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body) is on the ice for practice. #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/FNF5w8k4tN
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) June 1, 2018
NBC Sports Washington noted that Kuznetsov did not appear to be at full strength and seemed to be favoring his left hand at times.
That’s no surprise given the way Kuznetsov reacted after absorbing a hit from Vegas’ Brayden McNabb on Wednesday, grabbing at his left wrist area and immediately leaving the ice and heading up the tunnel while doubled over in pain.
Kuznetsov heads to the locker room after a high hit from McNabb. 😟😟😟
Stream #CapsKnights live: https://t.co/eVSyFueu2t pic.twitter.com/WmIH78aFPh
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) May 31, 2018
While the Caps were able to hold on for a 3-2 win in Game 2, losing Kuznetsov would be a significant blow in trying to keep pace with the high-scoring Golden Knights. The 26-year-old has 11 goals and 14 assists in 21 playoff games, and had recorded a point in 11 consecutive games before that streak ended Wednesday.
Though it may be a stretch to have him ready to absorb more pounding in Game 3, his presence on the ice Friday indicated there is hope for a return as the series continues.
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