Will Kings Show No Fear for the Scary Good?
- Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Washington Capitals were tied for the league lead in points with 45 points, while boasting a 12-2-1 road record.
- Yet, the Capitals are playing their second game in as many nights, after defeating the San Jose Sharks up north 5-2 on Tuesday. Possible fatigue and Washington backup goalie Ilya Samsonov may increase the chances of a Kings win.
- Perhaps the Los Angeles Kings catch a break knowing that one of the Capitals’ key players is out:
Caps’ injury update:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) December 5, 2019
— Nicklas Backstrom will not play tonight vs the Kings.
— Radko Gudas *will* play.
- The Kings won seven home games in November.
- With recent home wins against really strong competition in the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, and Winnipeg Jets, it can’t be too far fetched for Los Angeles to beat Washington (and perhaps get a little revenge for that Dodgers/Nationals debacle for the City of Angels).
On to the Game
For the first few minutes of the game, the Los Angeles Kings got off to a decent start, keeping the puck in the offensive zone, generally controlling the pace. However, momentum suddenly changed in Washington’s favor. In our game preview, Sarah relayed to Kings fans the potential danger that Capitals defenseman John Carlson poses:
John Carlson of the @Capitals is the first defenseman to reach the 30-assist mark in 29 or fewer games since Rangers icon Brian Leetch in 2000-01 (7-30—37 in 29 GP). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/WQ7bJuAdGj— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 4, 2019
Sure enough, John Carlson beat the Kings’ Jonathan Quick with a well-placed shot at 4:36 of the first period:
Later in the period, Carlson found himself alone off a cross-ice feed from T.J. Oshie, then displayed the fancy stick handles for his second goal of the game:
After falling behind 2-0, the Kings regained semblances of momentum and pushback, spending the latter minutes of the opening frame in their offensive zone, and establishing the forecheck. They weren’t able to close the gap on the scoreboard, but they applied enough pressure to force Washington defenseman Michael Kempny into a rarely-called closing-hand-on-the-puck penalty.
The Kings continued their strong play in the second period. They weren’t able to close the scoring gap, but showed enough fight to outshoot Washington 18-12 after two periods and outhit them 22-14. They seemed to be one pass or one good bounce away from getting within a goal or tying. Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick kept the game at 2-0 late in the period, including this spectacular save:
Speaking of good bounces, Los Angeles finally got one at 3:20 of the third period when Blake Lizotte bore down on Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov. Lizotte took advantage of the goalie’s misplay to put the Kings on the board, atoning for his earlier defensive lapse on Carlson’s second goal:
As the third period went on, the Kings showed some heart killing off penalties, with Anze Kopitar off for hooking, then with Tyler Toffoli off for an illegal check to the head. No small feat, considering Washington’s fifth-ranked power play. Kopitar came close to tying the game when he rang a wristshot off the post.
In the end, with Jonathan Quick pulled for the extra attacker, Dustin Brown was a final spectacular Ilya Samsonov save away from tying the game. Washington’s Tom Wilson sealed it with his launch into the empty net immediately after.
Washington Capitals 3, Los Angeles Kings 1.
Well, in other franchise news, this is cool:
3 goals in 1:37 for the Reign. Heck of a spurt for Ontario, which leads 3-0 at the break. Multi-point games already for Vilardi and Frk (G & A apiece).— Zach Dooley (@ReignInsider) December 5, 2019
Gabriel Vilardi finished the game with a goal, assist, and 1st Star honors in tonight’s Ontario Reign 3-2 win over the Stockton Heat.
Los Angeles hits the road for back to back games in the province of Alberta, starting with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday at 6pm PST.