The Washington Capitals evened up their Stanley Cup Final series with the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday night after an exciting, back-and-forth 3-2 win in Game 2. But in the win the Capitals may have suffered a massive loss, as leading scorer Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game in the first period with an apparent hand injury after taking a hit from Brayden McNabb.
McNabb was not penalized on the play, but some people wondered whether or not it’s a suspendable offence. While it doesn’t appear Kuznetsov has a head injury, did McNabb hit him in the head, with his elbow, or jump into the check?
Washington coach Barry Trotz said after the game that he didn’t like the hit, but also wasn’t expecting a suspension.
As you’ll recall, Capitals winger Tom Wilson escaped suspension for a very late hit on Jonathan Marchessault in Game 1 of the Cup Final. The Golden Knights forward left the game only briefly before returning and played 20:50 in Game 2. Some thought the more controversial play in that sequence was David Perron’s run-in off the bench with Alex Ovechkin.
Marchessault was asked for his thoughts on McNabb’s check on Kuznetsov and called it a “great hit.” While there doesn’t seem to be much controversy brewing over the play, Marchessault continued with a beautifully snide remark.
“I think it’s his wrist or something like that happened?” he told reporters after the game. “They definitely didn’t appreciate Kuznetsov getting hit. But at least he had the puck.”
There was no update on Kuznetsov’s status after the game from the Capitals, but it would be a massive blow to the team to lose the post-season’s top scorer. That said, Washington was previously without Nicklas Backstrom for Game 6 of their second round series and the first three games of the Eastern Conference Final, but went 3-1 without their best set-up man.
Should Kuznetsov have to miss time, it’s likely Backstrom will move up to the top line as he did for the remainder of Game 2 and Lars Eller, following one of the best games of his career, would also likely see a promotion.
Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final goes Saturday night as the series shifts to Washington.