Game 73; 42-25-6
WASHINGTON – I’m sure if ask any team, few if any will say that they enjoy playing on back-to-back nights. The Los Angeles Kings had to do that on Monday and Tuesday. But after beating the Flyers in Philadelphia on Monday, the silver-and-black got off to a slow start in Washington, only to fight back in the third before winning in the shootout, 5-4.
In a surprise move, Jonathan Quick was back in goal for Los Angeles having just played less than 24 hours earlier in Philadelphia. While he played well on Monday, he did allow two late goals before coming through late, helping the Kings win. But with the team’s wins record now his and a valiant effort the night before, logic would have suggested that Martin Jones would have gotten the call instead. Not so.
Unfortunately for Quick and the Kings, they got off to a slow start.
Before the game, Kings’ broadcaster Bob Miller suggested that with Washington’s successful power play, the Kings needed to be on their game on the penalty-kill. Early on, they were anything but.
Being called with two early penalties, the Caps scored on both advantages, both coming off the stick of Alex Ovechkin who scored his 21st and 22nd goals on the power play this season. While the first tally was off a bad bounce, the second saw the Great No. 8 (or so some call him) wide open in front of Quick where he made no mistake, increasing the Caps’ lead to two.
Despite entering the intermission down by a pair, spirits seemed relatively high on the Kings’ side. They may have started slow but they gradually picked up the pace, looking slightly more determined with each shift, and early in the second, they got on the board.
Just 2:53 into the middle frame, Mike Richards potted his 11th. In front of the Washington net and his back to netminder Jaroslav Halak, Richards took the pick, dragged it on his stick as he spun around and potted it to cut the lead in half. It was a power play goal from Alec Martinez and Jake Muzzin.
But as hungry as the Kings looked, they couldn’t tie the game. Unfortunately, it was an ex-King who regained the two-goal Washington lead late in the second.
Dustin Penner scored his 14th of the year and his first as a Capital at 17:18 of the middle frame to put the Caps up 3-1. The goal looked to take the wins out the Los Angeles sails a bit, but the Kings entered the third period on a mission.
Just 45 seconds into the third, Dwight King scored his 14th to pull the Kings to within one once again. Then, at 8:41, Maran Gaborik wristed his ninth of the year and third as a King over Halak’s shoulder to tie the game. But the silver-and-black weren’t done there as captain Dustin Brown jumped on a loose puck right in front of Halak before cashing in for his 14th to give Los Angeles their first lead of the night. Dustin Brown, Willie Mitchell, Tyler Toffoli, Jake Muzzin and Dwight King and Jarret all recorded assists on those three tallies. But the Caps were not out of it just yet.
In the final minute of regulation of what turned out to be a wild finish, the Caps had their net empty but were shorthanded. It didn’t matter to them as they scored anyway. Rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov potted his first-career NHL goal with just 42 seconds remaining to knot the game at four-apiece. Jonathan Quick, who looked unbelievable in the final few minutes, could not hang on. But that’s okay.
After a scoreless overtime, these two teams went to their second shootout in the less than a week.
After the aforementioned Kuznestsov missed, Anze Kopitar scored. Then, after Eric Fehr got stopped by Quick, all Jeff Carter had to do was score, and he did. The Kings pull off the rally, stringing together wins in four-straight outings.
This was a contribution-by-committee effort for the Los Angeles Kings. While fatigue did play a factor in the early going, everyone donning the silver-and-black regrouped, putting their best feet forward en route to a very-deserving two points. The Kings now leave the nation’s capital having swept their mini-two game series with Ovechkin and company.
In addition to the fourth-straight win, it’s seven-straight victories away from Staples Center for the Kings and franchise win No. 1497. But it doesn’t get any easier as, after a deserved day of rest on Wednesday, the Kings will travel to the Steel City to take on the Malkin-less Pittsburgh Penguins.