Washington's Alex Ovechkin and Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin will square off in an NHL Eastern Conference semifinal later this week before battling for league most valuable player honours in June.
Ovechkin, who scored an NHL-best 56 goals this season to lead the Capitals to the third playoff seed in the conference, will be looking to repeat as the Hart Trophy recipient.
Fellow Russian Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, who is also in the running for the Lady Byng (most gentlemanly player) and Frank J. Selke (top defensive forward) trophies, was the third finalist named Wednesday.
The winner will be announced June 18 at the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.
Ovechkin, 23, could become the first repeat winner of the Hart since goaltender Dominik Hasek in 1997 and 1998 and the first forward to do it since Wayne Gretzky won the Hart Trophy eight straight times from 1980 to 1987.
"It means a lot for me to be up for this award," Ovechkin said on the Capitals' website. "I always wanted to be the best, so this is a great honour.
"It's special, too, with three Russians nominated. It's a great thing for our country and our sport."
A year ago, Ovechkin also won the Art Ross Trophy as NHL scoring leader, with 112 points, and the Rocket Richard Trophy as goal-scoring leader, with 65.
This season, he locked up a second Richard Trophy, but his 110 points were second to Malkin's 113 for the Art Ross.
The 22-year-old Malkin, a third-year centre with the Penguins, has already won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring with 113 points, three more than Ovechkin.
Runner-up to Ovechkin for MVP honours last season, he had 35 goals and 78 assists this year for the Penguins, who had a second 100-point man in Sidney Crosby with 103.
Datsyuk, 30, is considered by many the league's most complete player. He was fourth in scoring with 97 points, was a plus-34 and won 56 per cent of his faceoffs.
He won the Selke last year and is bidding for a fourth straight Lady Byng. Datsyuk could be the first player to take both in consecutive years.
On Thursday, finalists will be announced for the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication while on Friday, the final three are to be announced for the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.