Barring a last-minute change, Evgeny Kuznetsov will play in Saturday’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Capitals center is officially listed as a “game-time” decision with an upper-body injury, but he took line rushes in the team’s morning skate and participated on the power play — which are key signs on a player’s status.
As usual, Kuznetsov was paired with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson.
“We’ll see,” Kuznetsov said. “We’ll see. It feels better every day.”
Kuznetsov’s injury occurred in the first period of Game 2 when Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb delivered a hard hit — sending the Russian into the glass. Kuznetsov, clutching his left arm, left for the locker room and did not return.
Capitals, like coach Barry Trotz and center Lars Eller, said they felt the hit was too high.
Kuznetsov, however, did not have a problem with it. Asked if he was lucky the injury wasn’t worse, Kuznetsov said, “I was born lucky.”
“You know if something was broken, I would not sit here,” Kuznetsov said. “I would be in the ambulance. But no. Like I said, it’s a hockey player and sometimes they’re hit us and sometimes we’re going to hit them.”
Kuznetsov leads the Capitals with 11 goals and 14 assists this postseason.
“To see him ready to go is great,” center Nicklas Backstrom said.