The visiting Washington Capitals came into the game vs the LA Kong’s with a league leading 20-4-5 record and 45 points while the Kings are in last place in the western conference with a 11-15-2 record and 24 points. The dismal season had seen the offense sputter with only Anze Kopitar having scored 10 goals. Pretty much a new crop of young defenders along side veteran all star Drew Doughty. Goalie Jonathan Quick has been disappointing with a 3.36 goals against average but kept the team in the game after the rough start. New coach Todd McLellan has tried a variety of lines and strategies but the team had under-achieved. The team missed the playoffs last year and it is only getting tougher as their core key players are not getting any younger in this now speed driven/younger player movement in the NHL.
Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Dustin Brown have had down seasons and need to pick it up with the younger players chipping in. It is going to be a dogfight to get back into the playoff hunt but there are many veterans and Stanley Cup Champions so you never know. The team will hit the road now which doesn’t make it easier with some much needed points after winning 7 of their last games at home in November. They are missing key defender Alec Martinez, who had successful surgery on his wrist and is expected to make a full recovery but no time table for his return. Trevor Lewis was recently activated from the injury list.
Washington is led by Alex Ovechkin with 20 goals. Top defender John Carlson put the Caps up going far side on a slap shot past Quick from outside the circle of their attacking done. Then he did it again faking out Quick near the goal and scoring his second of the game. It was 2-0 after 2 periods.
The Kings finally got on the board in the 3rd period when Blake Lizotte scored after stealing the puck behind the net as Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov made his only mistake of the game. Other than that, he was super sharp and made some great saves especially donw the stretch and in the last minute before Washington scored an empty net goal. The Caps are bidding to make it back to the Stanley Cup Finals after winning the whole championship 2 years ago. Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Jacob Vrana, Tom Wilson and injured Nicklas Backstrom anchor the offense behind Ovechkin. The final score was 3-1 for Washington at the Staples Center.
More on the Kings at www.nhl.com/kings
Post game interviews:
KINGS HEAD COACH TODD MCLELLAN
(RE: THOUGHTS ON THE GAME)
“The start seems to be a bit of an issue for us. I think tonight was a repeat of our night in Anaheim. We fall behind and then we started to dig our way out and its admirable that our guys will do that and play to the end, but there has to be a stronger belief system at the beginning and we have to be a lot more aggressive and impose our game on the other team and not sit back. That was the case tonight, and once it got to two, I thought we said, ‘let’s just go play, we have nothing to lose’ and we became a better team. We’re struggling to score goals right now, so the mistakes are magnified, and they end up costing you wins, so there is a lot to work on. Tomorrows a new day, we have practice, but we’ll have to get better on the road because we’re going to see a lot of hotel rooms over the next little bit.”
KINGS FORWARD ANZE KOPITAR
(RE: WEAK START OF GAME)
“It wasn’t necessarily a poor start it was just a couple of mistakes and they scored goals, that’s what it was. When you put yourself in a hole like that it’s tough to come back, but the other 50 minutes were good. We’ve talked about this before. It’s a 60 or 65 minute effort that needs to happen and we fell short again tonight.”
KINGS FORWARD BLAKE LIZOTTE
(RE: GAME RECAP)
“It’s kind of an ongoing theme. Our starts haven’t been good enough. It’s hard to win in this league when you start the game 0-1 and are down 0-2. After the first [period] I thought we had a good push in the second [period], even in the third [period] we had some good pushes but again it’s hard to come back in this league when you’re losing, especially going into the third [period] against one of the best teams in the league. I take ownership of that second goal, I ended up costing us the game. [John] Carlson going to the back door, and it’s simple mistakes like that, need to be better.”
CAPITALS HEAD COACH TODD REIRDEN
(RE: ON THE TEAM’S DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE)
“Yeah, the game was a little slow. There were a lot of whistles early on. A lot of icings. It was a strange of type of game early on and broken. It was tough for either team to get a ton of rhythm going. Our guys had to focus and hang in there. We were able to leave with two points. We’re finding different ways to win – that was a really good game by [Ilya] Samsonov and obviously John Carlson continues to do special things every night.”
CAPITALS FORWARD ALEXANDER OVECHKIN
(RE: CAPITALS DEFENSEMAN JOHN CARLSON)
“I don’t know what to say right now; he’s the hottest guy out there. You can see two highlight reel goals again. He’s good.”
CAPITALS FORWARD TOM WILSON
(RE: THE CURRENT WINNING STREAK)
“I think consistency is a word that probably most teams use in this league as something that they want to have. It’s a tough league to win [in]. If you can string together some wins, that’s really how you separate yourself away from the pack. We’re just taking it game-by-game and trying to do the right things. Hopefully, you can get a couple of games together and win streaks.”