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Evgeny Kuznetsov returns to lineup, scores goal as Capitals win Game 3

WASHINGTON -- Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to the Washington Capitals' lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after leaving Game 2 in Las Vegas with an apparent injury to his left arm or shoulder.

Kuznetsov, who has been impressive for the Capitals throughout the postseason, scored the Capitals' second goal in the second period of Saturday's 3-1 win over the Golden Knights -- the first Stanley Cup Final game in Washington in 20 years. He also assisted on Alex Ovechkin's goal earlier in the period.

The win gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead in the series, with Game 4 set for Monday in Washington.

"You play a little bit better when you're hurt," said Kuznetsov, who leads all players with 27 points this postseason.

Kuznetsov and Ovechkin are the fourth set of teammates to accumulate at least 25 points apiece in the past 10 postseasons. Pittsburgh's duo of Evgeni Malkin and Crosby have done it twice (2017 and 2009). Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams did it for Los Angeles in 2014. Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane accomplished the feat for Chicago in 2010.

All signs pointed to Kuznetsov playing Saturday night after the morning skate, as he participated fully with linemates Tom Wilson and Ovechkin. He left Game 2 after a hit by Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb that crushed his left arm between their bodies. Kuznetsov fell to the ice, clutching that arm, and left for the trainers' room.

The Capitals said he was questionable to return, but he ended up not playing again in that game. Afterward, Kuznetsov was not seen favoring or wearing anything to brace the arm.

"Kuzy's a surprisingly tough kid," Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen said. "He's kind of a slender guy, wiry strong, but guys play through stuff all the time throughout the year and then especially this time of year."

Before Saturday's win, Kuznetsov talked about the impact of Stanley Cup hockey returning to Washington after two decades.

"That's huge for our fans, and when we play on the road, you see how many thousands of people came into Capital One Arena, and that's huge," he said. "We feel that atmosphere, and we just want to keep them happy."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.