The LA Kings took on the Washington Capitals at staples center after a tough loss to Chicago last Saturday. At this point, la is in 9th place just out of the playoffs but that can change quickly. With only 16 games left in the season, every point is a big one. The Capitals are led by Alex Ovechkin, who leads the NHL in goals 40.
The teams felt each out the first period before Jonathan Quick made a point blank save on John Carlson. A few minutes later p, much needed forward Jeff Carter scored his 4th goal of the season after missing much of the campaign. His presence and talent have been missed but he is a welcome addition to have heading down the stretch. Jay Beagle slid past two King’s defensemen and alone on Quick but hit the goalpost with about a minute left in the period. So it was 1-0 heading to the second period.
The second period started a bit wide open and Washington drew even when TJ Oshie scored on a rebound deflected shot and hit it down into the net just barely below the crossbar or it would have not counted. Minutes later, Carter gave Trevor Lewis a nice lead pass and he came in vs the defense and got a shot off that backup goalie Grubauer saved but Lewis didn’t give up and shot it in on his 3rd attempt. It was his 14th goal of the season and his 25th point, which ties his career high. He also just returned from injury and the Kings were pretty much at full strength for the first time all season.
The third period was a battle as the Capitals had some good chances but LA played great defense and Quick was too tough. The Kings killed off another 2 penalties and got their own only power play of the game but there was no scoring. Washington pulled their goalie and Kyle Clifford took a wrist-shot just inside the red line to make it 3-1 which was the final score.
After the game, I interviewed Trevor Lewis, who had a strong game and scored the game winning goal. “I think the last 4 days getting in some practice time helped. It was a great player by Carter to get me the pass” regarding the game winning goal. “All the games are big now, we got to keep our foot on the petal now. Good things happen when you go to the net.”
I asked him how big it is to have Carter back in the lineup and he said, “ It is huge and he takes the pressure off Kopi. He plays against all the top guys. He plays in all situations too.”
Tanner Pearson interview- I asked how the team’s confidence and chemistry heading down the stretch. “You cannot really question that now and this is the first time we have got everyone healthy. We will try to string some wins together to stay in the playoffs.”
Coach Stevens said, “We knew it was a big game after the last loss. We knew they would be a lot better tonight after the Anaheim game. Their power play is so dangerous. Our group handled the time off well and it is an important stretch coming up. Lewis is one of those glue guys and I wasn’t surprised how well he played.”
How important is it having the full team healthy now. “We need depth coming down the stretch and getting Lewis back who was a guy we really missed and getting a few games under Jeff ‘s (Carter) belt was a key including the face-off circles with a lefty (Kopitar) and righty (Carter). “
How big was this victory? “Anytime you lose you want to bounce back. We have to win games and take care of business at home with 10 left here. We need to have the same sense of urgency like we do on the road. These were big points for both teams. That match-up with Drew and Ovechkin has been tremendous and love competing against each other. He is a big powerful guy and Drew did a great job.
I asked Coach Stevens if he could talk about the overall defense and strategy keeping Ovechkin and Backstrom pretty quiet. He said, “We gave up a little bit too much on the rush but you really have to do it as a group. We have to eliminate space in the center. The key time was killing the power play in the third period.”
Lastly was interviewing Drew Doughty, who always gives a great interview win or lose. He is so humble and honest. I asked him to talk about the match-up with Ovechkin. “Everyone on the team from the star players to 4th line takes pride in playing good defense and we did a good job tonight.” Do you look forward in these match-ups against the big players? He said, “Yes for sure. When Ovechkin comes in, I need to play my best. I didn’t play too well offensively. He didn’t really get too many shots.” I asked him how big was the win. “We needed that win and blew that game last Saturday. We got back into a playoff spot with the win and we just have to keep winning and we cannot drop anymore points or we will be in trouble.”. More at www.nhl.com/kings