Capitals at Kings: More Like The Great 12
Hey, the Kings have been playing some much more exciting hockey since the Olympic break. Offensive slumping in January meant they tightened up their defensive game to try to limit opponents’ chances. It didn’t always work — most of the time if didn’t work — but it also meant they weren’t allowing themselves to be too creative on the ice. Even when they played well, they were a lot more predictable.
Last night’s game against the Washington Capitals was a two-goal game in regulation, but it stayed interesting throughout. The Capitals weren’t even able to enter the Kings’ zone for the first couple minutes, but they created chances on the power play, including that always dangerous Alex Ovechkin shot from the left side. Fortunately, Jonathan Quick anticipated it and pushed over to stop the shot in time.
The scoreboard stayed empty until Justin Williams’ sent a long pass to Marian Gaborik on what could have been an icing call, but Gaborik’s position and speed had him reach the puck first. Gaborik passed to Anze Kopitar behind him on the play, and Kopitar came in with enough speed to shoot and beat goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Though the Kings held on to their 1-0 lead through the third period, both goaltenders had to make some important stops to keep the score low. Quick was tested at point-blank twice in a row by former Kings teammate Dustin Penner.
Fans didn’t get to hear that goal horn again in regulation, but I liked what I saw from a lot of players. Drew Doughty’s hustle has been more effective the last couple games. Jake Muzzin, back after being scratched one game, broke up a potential 2-on-1 and brought it back into the Capitals’ end to get a shot off. Tyler Toffoli had an amazing shift in second period, keeping the puck in the zone under pressure along the boards, winning the battle and eventually allowing the Kings to get a shot on net. Tanner Pearson stepped up nicely in the third, really riding a strong showing overall since coming back to the NHL. Jewels from the Crown has more on that in a post analyzing the Kings’ numbers since the break.
Eventually the Capitals were able to even the score. Forward Joel Ward, who has been having a great season, stuck with his own rebound and got a second effort past Quick.
In overtime, the Kings tempted bad luck by taking a penalty. The Capitals came strong during it, too, but the Kings escaped and went on to the shootout.
Watch that whole whole thing if you love winners winning:
Not only does that lovely Jeff Carter backhand make an appearance and payoff, but then Gaborik’s slick shot beat Halak and put the Kings ahead in the shootout. It would eventually be the shot that kept the Kings from extending their losing streak to four games, simultaneously earning Gaborik his first win in Staples Center.
Quick really summed up my feelings about the outcome with his dorky kick-punch move after his last save to end it all.
With this win, Quick tied Rogie Vachon in goaltending wins and coach Darryl Sutter earned his 500th career regular season wins.
Let’s be honest — the Kings should’ve done both those things against the Toronto Maple Leafs last week, but they’ve finally done it now, and that’s pretty cool.