New York Rangers

Kucherov relishes chance to face Ovechkin in East Final

Like many young Russian hockey players, Nikita Kucherov grew up following Alex Ovechkin's career, hoping to someday become a prolific scorer and maybe even compete against his countryman in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The 24-year-old Tampa Bay Lightning winger has spent five seasons fulfilling the first portion of the dream.

The other part becomes a reality Friday night, when the Lightning open the Eastern Conference finals against Ovechkin's Washington Capitals.

"When he came in the league, he was the best player, and I mean he's still the best player," Kucherov said.

"Everybody would talk about him, and I definitely wanted to be in his...

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