Alex Ovechkin – who else – scored on the Capitals’ first shot of the game. That was the extent of the damage, and after a sluggish first period, it was all Kings.
Rather than squeak out a victory by the skin of their teeth, the Kings scored four unanswered goals and denied the same quality chances on the other end. Anze Kopitar tied the game at 1 in the second period by scoring his first goal since Jan. 15, putting back the rebound of a Wayne Simmonds shot from close range.
Andrei Loktionov put back a rebound at the end of a 2-on-1 rush with Kyle Clifford at 3:36 of the third period to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. Michal Handzus whacked in another loose puck in Semyon Varlamov’s crease at 12:28 of the third, and Jarret Stoll flew up the right wing for a much prettier goal at 13:56.
Jonathan Bernier made 22 saves, buckling down after Ovechkin’s goal 66 seconds into the game.
Going back to Dec. 27, when the Kings first slipped into a 2-10 coma, they had only beaten one opponent by three or more goals (a 5-2 win over Edmonton on Jan. 15). Since Jan. 22, they’re 6-0-2 and now have a decisive win over a good team that was booed heartily by the announced crowd of 18,398 at the Verizon Center.
A few more notes:
The new-look “first” (Handzus-Kopitar-Simmonds) and “third” (Clifford-Loktionov-Brown) lines didn’t give Terry Murray much of a reason to be broken up. Loktionov led all players with five shots on goal, went 4-3 in the faceoff circle, and generally looked more comfortable playing his natural center position (he had been at left wing almost exclusively). Being paired with a couple bulldozers in Simmonds and Handzus seemed to draw Kopitar closer to the net – the desired effect -most noticeably on the line’s two goals.
It helped that Capitals couldn’t muster much defensive pressure after the first period, but apparently four is the most goals Washington has allowed in its last 11 games. Coincidentally, a steady stream of four-letter words seemed to be on the tip of Bruce Boudreau’s tongue late in the game.
Matt Greene blocked five shots, and started the rush that led to Loktionov’s goal with a stellar two-line pass to Clifford.
In general, it was a good game for Kings’ defensemen in the area of puck recovery. That’s how you hold the Capitals to 23 shots on goal, one off their season low.
Six hits for Dustin Brown, $300 for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.