Kings at Capitals: Messy But Effective
A weird thing happened in the Kings game last night. The game started without having everyone from both teams present. Though social media led fans to believe the Kings took a train to Washington, DC immediately after the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, here’s a list of everyone on the team who showed up late:
The bulk of any preparation for facing the Washington Capitals right now is that Alex Ovechkin takes a lot of shots, especially on the power play, and he leads the league in goals scored. Still, the Kings took two early penalties, and Ovechkin scored during both power plays, putting the Kings in the hole 2-0 really early.
A power play in the Kings’ favor gave them a chance to generate some offense of their own, but they couldn’t get much going. By the end of the period, they’d close the gap in shots on goal, ending the period with seven shots to the Capitals’ eight but no goals. They also lost the possession battle in the first period.
Things seemed like they might start turning around in the second. Mike Richards buried Alec Martinez’s rebound while the Kings again had the man advantage, bringing the score to 2-1.
The Kings found some rhythm following that goal. They dug up some energy and played more effectively in both their zone and in the neutral zone, tipping possession in their favor. The Capitals weathered the Kings pressure, though, and ended up getting the game’s next goal. Goaltender Jonathan Quick made some spectacular saves in tight on Dustin Penner last week, but Penner got the best of him this time. Just like that the Kings were down two again.
Similar to the game against Philadelphia, thing got wilder in the third, mostly working out in the Kings’ favor. Two different players found the back of the net to tie the game at three.
First, Dwight King scored his second goal in two games, getting captain Dustin Brown’s rebound and slipping it past goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Then, a strong shift from all the Kings on the ice, including Jake Muzzin keeping the puck on-side when it came close to the blue line, led to a Marian Gaborik snap shot that earned the away team their third.
Four minutes later, King showed some more excellent hustle. First Jarret Stoll intercepted the Capitals’ attempted breakout pass and pushed it back into the slot. King then nicely executed a little fancy work to keep the puck away from Capitals players in front of the next, eventually allowing Brown to skate through and beat Halak between the pads.
After earning a 2-0 deficit to start the game, the Kings had battled back to lead the Capitals 4-3 with just over seven minutes left. If only they could hold onto the le– THEY DIDN’T.
Not only did the Kings allow the Capitals to tie the game with less than a minute left, but they were on the power play when it happened. I’m going to actually embed the video for this, because of how dumb it was.
A lot of this one is on Quick. When Dmitri Orlov shot in the puck from the blue line, Quick deflected the puck into the corner instead of catching it and allowing the Kings to take a face-off. This matters because all the Capitals players are heading into the zone right then, and they’re also pulling Halak to bring on an extra attacker.
The puck stayed in play, Willie Mitchell let Drew Doughty’s pass behind the net get picked off, and then Quick fumbled a shot on net. Rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov easily cleaned up the garbage, tapping in the rebound just chilling in the crease.
So, there the Kings were, once again going into overtime with the Washington Capitals. Neither team scored during a pretty energetic five minutes. On to the shootout.
Kuznetsov, the first skater for the Capitals, lost control of the puck and didn’t even get a shot off. Anze Kopitar scored through Halak’s ever-gaping five-hole. Quick failed on the poke check against Eric Fehr but closed down fast enough to save the shot anyway. Jeff Carter, like in his last shootout against the Capitals, sped toward the net and beat Halak easily. He went forehand instead of backhand for some cool variety.
After starting out horrendously flat on the second day of a back-to-back, the Kings came back, both in goals and in possession, and eventually skedaddle out of DC with two more points. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but it was hard-fought, so it’s mostly good.