Evgeny Kuznetsov returns to Washington to face the Capitals for the 1st time with the Hurricanes

Fri, Mar 22, 2024
NHL News (AP)

Evgeny Kuznetsov returns to Washington to face the Capitals for the 1st time with the Hurricanes

WASHINGTON (AP) - Evgeny Kuznetsov's return to the nation's capital started with a friendly trip and featured a standing ovation during an emotional video tribute to one of the Washington Capitals' biggest stars of the past decade.

Former teammate Alex Ovechkin stuck a leg out and playfully tripped Kuznetsov after a whistle very early his first game back to his old home arena with the Carolina Hurricanes. He was then cheered and serenaded with "Kuuuuuz!" chants while waving to the crowd.

Kuznetsov was the leading scorer on Washington's 2018 Stanley Cup run, the highlight of his decade-long stint as one of the team's core players. His tumultuous tenure ended by going into the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program and getting put on waivers and sent to Hershey of the American Hockey League before ultimately being traded to Carolina on deadline day two weeks ago.

After playing 810 regular-season and playoff games for the Capitals since they drafted him in the first round in 2010, the Chelyabinsk, Russia, native put up five points in his first eight with Carolina.

"Everything he's done since coming to us has been great," coach Rod Brind'Amour said. "I think he's been very appreciative of how everything has kind of transpired. The past is kind of the past, and we're trying to make sure we're focusing on just a day at a time and making him try to feel as comfortable as possible."

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STEPHEN WHYNO DC-based hockey writer covering NHL, Capitals and Commanders twitter mailto "
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