Wednesday, March 26, 2014
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After 3-Goal Third Period, Kings Top Caps In Shootout

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[March 26, 2014]  WASHINGTON  After playing the night before in Philadelphia and spending the early-morning hours on a train, the Los Angeles Kings should have been out of gas in the third period Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.

Instead, the Kings stepped on the accelerator with three third-period goals and survived a late goal by Washington Capitals rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov to pull out a 5-4 shootout victory.

Los Angeles left winger Dwight King and right wingers Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown scored in the third period, and centers Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored the only goals in the shootout.

Kuznetsov and center Eric Fehr were unsuccessful on shootout attempts against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who improved to 25-15-2. Quick made 23 saves in regulation and overtime.

The result was the Kings' fourth consecutive victory, three of them by one goal.

"I think it was a good character win," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "The boys stuck together, stuck with it. We knew the whole time we were going to get back in that game. That was our entire mindset."

The Kings (42-25-6) solidified their hold on third place in the Pacific Division.

The shootout loss gave the Capitals (34-27-12) a key point in the tight Eastern Conference wild-card race. Four teams  the Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington  are tied for the two wild-card spots with 80 points.


The Capitals are 4-0-2 in their past six games following back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier this month.

"There's no excuse. We have to find a way to win when we are up two goals," Capitals left winger Marcus Johansson said. "Hopefully, it doesn't come down to one point (in the final standings)."

Despite the Kings coming off a hard-fought win over the Flyers the night before, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said before Tuesday's game he was not overly concerned about his team's energy level.

The Capitals certainly tried to exploit the advantage in their first game back from a three-game road trip, getting two power-play goals from right winger Alex Ovechkin in the opening seven minutes.

At 2:24, Ovechkin snapped a pass from defenseman John Carlson off Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr and into the net for his 47th goal of the season and 21st on the power-play goal, both league highs.

A little more than four minutes later, Ovechkin capitalized on another power play, this time snapping a nice feed from right winger Troy Brouwer past sliding Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.

Ovechkin's 22nd power-play goal matched his career high for a season, which is also a franchise record. However, he was upset with the Caps' inability to shut the door on the Kings.

"We made mistakes in our zone," Ovechkin said. "We didn't do the right thing, and it almost cost us both points."

The Kings looked like a different team in the second period, converting a power play on center Mike Richards' 11th goal of the season and second in three games. Richards' goal came 2:53 into the period, when he whipped a backhander past Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak (32 saves).

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A few minutes later, the Capitals lost center Nicklas Backstrom for the remainder of the game. He was taken hard into the boards by Los Angeles Doughty, hitting his left shoulder and head on the glass divider next to the Capitals' bench.

Backstrom entered the game tied with Ovechkin for the team lead with 69 points.

"Obviously, you miss (Backstrom)," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "But every team has guys that go out. You've got 19 other guys to do the job."

The Capitals restored their two-goal lead with 2:42 remaining in the second period when left wing Dustin Penner, a Stanley Cup winner with the Kings two years ago, scored his first goal for the Capitals, shoveling a pass from fourth-line center Chris Brown past Quick.

That is when the Kings rolled up their sleeves. King slipped behind two Capitals defensemen to make it 3-2 just 45 seconds into the third period. Gaborik tied the score at the 8:41 mark by roofing a shot over Halak, and Brown gave the Kings a 4-3 lead with 7:05 remaining in regulation.

"After the second period, we still felt we were right in it," Kopitar said. "It certainly helped coming out of the intermission and scoring in the first minute."

The Capitals were in the midst of killing a late penalty when Kuznetsov shoved a rebound under Quick for his first NHL goal with 41.5 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

NOTES: The Kings entered the game with 2,294 total hits, second behind the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL. Led by RW Dustin Brown with 210, the Kings have 10 players with 100 or more hits. The Capitals, who entered the game ranked 15th in the league with 1,689 hits, have three players over 100, led by RW Troy Brouwer's 193. ... The Capitals were without C Mikhail Grabovski, who sat out for the 21st time in 22 games with a left ankle injury. Grabovski said he hopes to play when the Caps return to action Saturday against the Boston Bruins. ... Capitals LW Dustin Penner won a Stanley Cup with the Kings in 2012. "He scored an overtime goal to put us into the Stanley Cup final," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's what I remember most. When you score an overtime goal in a (conference) championship game, I'd say that's valuable." ... The Kings conclude their three-game road trip Thursday night in Pittsburgh against the Penguins.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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