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Los Angeles Kings @ Washington Capitals Game 56 Running Diary: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and the Capitals Overpower the Kings, take it 6-4

Los Angeles Kings v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It’s the Los Angeles Kings versus the defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals live from Capital One Arena in Landover, Maryland. The Kings have stepped it up, going 6-2-2 in their last ten, while the Caps are 3-6-1 over the same span. Both are 3-1-1 since the break.

With Nate Thompson traded, Trevor Lewis returning from injury, Jeff Carter out, and Willie D. rotating his bottom three defensemen, here are the revamped lines for tonight:

Iafallo—Kopitar—Brown
Leipsic—Amadio—Toffoli
Hagelin—Kempe—Kovalchuk
Clifford—Lewis—Wagner

Forbort—Doughty
Martinez—Fantenberg
Phaneuf—LaDue

Jonathan Quick in net.

The Kings, who sit only eight points out of a playoff spot (and four points out of last place in the league) again get the last place team treatment, drawing backup Pheonix Copley (11-5-3, .904 Sv%, 2.97 GAA) in net. The Caps are saving Braden Holtby for their division matchup tomorrow night in Columbus. Remember the days when the Kings’ opponents would start their number one goalie to ensure their best effort? Yeah, I do too...

First Period

00:25—Jakub Vrana with the wraparound that would have been converted by Nicklas Backstrom if not for the Derek Forbort reach to break it up.

01:10—The greatest goal scorer of all time, Alex Ovechkin, has not scored since the break. Let’s hope this streak continues.

02:10—Michael Amadio to the box on a hook. The Kings have killed fourteen-straight penalties. Let’s hope this streak continues.

Caps 1. Kings 0.

02:10—That two streaks broken as Ovechkin scores his 38th goal of the year. That’s his first goal against the Kings since 2015. Kings have now killed 14 of their last 15 penalties. It never ceases to amaze why coaching staffs around the league don’t game plan better for Ovechkin. I’ve probably seen 502 of his 644 lifetime goals and they all kinda look the same with him pumping something in from the left wing. Ovechkin just passed Sergei Federov for the most points by a Russian-born player (1,184 to 1,179). Ilya Kovalchuk is fourth with 842 points.

Caps 1. Kings 1.

04:50—Forbort tracks down the dump and chase, gives between his legs to Austin Wagner who’s wide open in front of the net. Kings score on their first shot of the game. This is why you start the young guys in a lost season: they are the future and the future is now. Forbort came to play tonight. All tied at one.

06:49—Alec Martinez to the box on a phantom holding call. Zebras being zebras, hating on the Kings in 2019.

08:20—The puck trickles past Quick, but an alert Drew Doughty scoops it up ahead of the goal line and clears. In Drew we trust.

08:49—Penalty killed...that’s 15 of 16.

11:54—Evgeny Kuznetsov to the box for hooking Kyle Clifford. This was followed quickly by Tom Wilson and Clifford posing with high sticks looking ready to go. Sadly, the zebras got there in time to stop this heavyweight battle. Kings to the power play.

13:54—Penalty killed. Kings produced nothing. I’ll try to remain positive about the power play lineups the Kings send out.

15:00—Kings on an extended cycle that lasted for about a minute in the Caps’ zone and saw Copley lose his stick, four shots on goal, and Doughty and Ovechkin colliding at the blueline.

Caps 2. Kings 1.

15:17—Caps emerge from the TV timeout with a rush that results in Brett Connolly’s 13th goal of the season.

15:38—Dmitry Orlov to the box. Kings to the power play. I won’t get too excited about the prospects of tying this game up.

16:43—Sure enough, Chandler Stephenson capitalizes on Tyler Toffoli losing the puck and breaks in shorthanded. Doughty is there, forcing Stephenson to lose an edge and miss the opportunity. This doesn’t happen with two defensemen on the power play unit.

Dear Willie D.:
The risks on your brainchild of a four forwards, one D-man power play unit seldom works. Please take that under advisement even if you score occasionally on the power play.

Caps 2. Kings 2.

17:22—When you can’t clear the puck, it will kill you. Doughty somehow keeps the puck in and quarterbacks the magic. Toffoli with his fifth goal in seven games. Watch the Anze Kopitar stick handling that tees up Toffoli perfectly for the one-time bouncer that goes five hole for the power play goal.

19:13—Connolly hooks Dustin Brown and the Kings go back on the power play.

End of Period.

Kings went long stretches with little to show for it, but capitalize on three straight penalties to put Washington on their heels. All tied with time left on the power play to start the second.

Shots: Capitals 12. Kings 10.

Second Period

01:13—Penalty killed. Anyone have a clue why half of the first two rows of seats around the glass are 50-60 per cent empty. What a waste.

Kings 3. Caps 2.

03:42—Oscar Fantenberg with goals in back-to-back games. Caps should have started Holtby. Kings are dangerous these days. Since the All Star Break the Kings are top five league-wide in scoring.

04:45—Kuznetsov with a wide open net, but Doughty sprawls for his second save of the night. Caps are without a shot this period.

Kings 3. Caps 3.

06:39—The goal scoring parade continues. Doughty wasn’t there this time as Kuznetsov chips it home after some puck pinball action. That’s four goals and four assists for Kuznetsov in his last four games.

10:15—Kings controlling play in the third. If they can tighten up the second chances, this is their game. TV timeout.

Caps 4. Kings 3.

10:31—Cap emerge from the timeout and immediately rush into the Kings zone, create chaos and the puck somehow finds its way past Quick and three other Kings players. Christian Djoos gets credit for his first goal of the year. How many players have gotten their first against the Kings in the last couple of year? Lots! That’s how many. It got old in 2016. Stop the madness. Ovechkin with his 1,185th point of his career moves past Rod Brind’Amour into 48th place on the all-time NHL scoring list.

Caps 5. Kings 3.

13:09—Uh-uh, the Kings got away from their defensive-style game plan and are losing control of this one. Three straight goals for the Caps. It’s Vrana with his 17th of the year. Paul LaDue wishes he could have that sequence back. We do too.

15:08—Backstrom draws the hold on Kopitar. We’ll skate 5-4 for while.

Dear Willie:
You might want to tell the boys to cover Ovechkin on this penalty kill.

16:14—Nope. Ovechkin all alone all power play produces two blasts on net.

17:08—Penalty killed. That’s 16 of 17 now.

17:10—Kopitar and Wilson come together with Wilson hitting the ice. Immediately, he whines for a penalty against Kopitar.

End of Period.

Kings played with fire and got burned. It’s fairly obvious that they cannot match the Caps if they go up tempo. I’m sure Jonathan Quick is slightly seething inside with all of the defensive breakdowns and white shirts standing around in front of him. LaDue has five shots on goal. Maybe they should turn him into a forward. Let’s see if the Kings have another Grammy Trip comeback in them.

Shots: Capitals 22. Kings 20.

Third Period

05:52—We haven’t seen the Obligatory Willie Desjardins Lost Look in a while, but there it is. Why? Because the Kings have no answer and no strategy to break the logjam at the Caps’ blueline. Just imagine if the Kings came out strong in every third period instead of one out of every five games. This could be a long, frustrating period.

06:58—Kopitar clips Kuznetsov with a high stick. If the Kings don’t kill this one, that should seal the deal for Washington.

08:58—Quick stops Ovechkin and takes matters into his own hands, clearing the puck himself to kill the penalty. Ovechkin stayed out the entire two minutes on the man advantage. He leads all skaters with eight shots on goal.

Caps 5. Kings 4.

10:25—Wagner nets his second off a perfect pass from Lewis. Kings within one.

11:43—Stephenson powers into the zone as Quick stuffs him. Fantenberg sweeps away the rebound. Danger averted.

14:22—The Hagelin-Kempe-Kovalchuk line was buzzing there. Doughty sends a drive that Copley struggled to get his stick on. TV timeouts haven’t been kind to the Kings tonight. Let’s see how they do out of this one.

Caps 6. Kings 4.

15:13—More defensive breakdowns and turnovers as Kuznetsov gets his second goal and fourth point of night. Ovechkin picks up the helper for his third point (1G, 2A).

17:50—Quick to the bench. Kings in desperation mode needing two late goals to tie.

End of Game.

Shots: Kings 33. Capitals 31.

Epilogue

Too many breakdowns. Too many goals. Finish the Grammy Trip at 3-2-1. Kings playoff push halted as they sit eight points out of the last wild card slot and four points out of last place.

Next: A Valentine’s Day matchup on Thursday with the Vancouver Canucks as the Kings return to Staples Center.

Quotable:

The Russian Connection:

Canadiens happy with their new guy: