Evgeny Kuznetsov back in Capitals lineup for Game 3 (Update)

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WASHINGTON — All signs point to Evgeny Kuznetsov returning to the Washington Capitals’ lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final Saturday night against the Vegas Golden Knights. (Update: The Capitals confirm he will play.)

The forward was a full participant for the second straight practice and while he gave a “we’ll see” response about returning for Game 3 and Capitals head coach Barry Trotz labeled him again as a game-time decision, it would be a major surprise if Kuznetsov doesn’t play. He took regular line rushes with Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson and everything looked back to normal.

Kuznetsov left Game 2 late in the first period of Washington’s 3-2 win and did not return after suffering an upper-body injury following a hit by Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb. There was no penalty on the play and while Trotz talked about possible supplemental discpline after the game, his player didn’t agree.

“I saw him all the way. It’s a hockey play,” said Kuznetsov. “We hit their guys. They hit our guys. It’s just a hockey play and I’m never going to judge the referees or some players how they play. It’s not on me. But I don’t think that’s dirty, right?”

It looked bad, and when Kuznetsov failed to come back, it appeared to be an ominous sign for the Capitals. But a couple of days of rest and two practices have showed that he’ll likely get the green light for a return.

Said Kuznetsov: “I think I’m born lucky.”

MORE:
• NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.