Photo: Patrick McDermott
We’re in the thick of it now. Tuesday’s slew of NHL hockey was bursting with importance, no game more than the Washington Capitals hosting the Los Angeles Kings for the first time since 2011. The dominant Kings, in an outburst of charity, gave the Caps a loser point last week, but weren’t so keen to be so kind this time. After spotting the Caps a pair of goals, the Kings carved up the Caps in the third period, but then Kuzya did a Big Thing to force OT and steal another point from the league’s best team.
Alex Ovechkin led the way with a pair of power play goals. The Kings struck back with a pretty special goal by Mike Richards, who reached around Jack Hillen to find the net. The Caps got swamped in the second period but managed to restore a two-goal lead on Dustin Penner’s first goal as a Cap.
The third period was all LA. DJ King’s brother Dwight drew LA within one early, then Marian Gaborik tied it up with around 11 minutes left. Dustin Brown eked out a lead for the visitors just four minutes later. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first NHL goal in the game’s final minute– tying the game with a fantastic backhand swat while shorthanded.
The Caps survived a power play in overtime and headed to the shootout.
Kings beat Caps 5-4 (Shootout).
ALL HAIL IAN:
Evgeny Kuznetsov will score his first NHL goal tonight #TheBank
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) March 25, 2014
Now that was real Caps hockey.
…Not how Washington played, obviously, but how the Kings did it. They played carefully through neutral and funneled all their o-zone action towards the Capitals’ net. When the Kings went down in the score, they kept pressing. Once they took the lead, they kept pressing. Scoar moar goals hockey. That was the style of hockey that built this franchise, now the Kings cowed them with it.
Without Evgeny’s excellence during that final minute, while shorthanded no less, this would have been a mortifying #rego defeat. Instead, the Caps gained more ground in the wild card race and making this night not a total bummer after all.
And yet, for all that drama, the lasting memory of this game might be Jack Hillen’s OT knockout and Backstrom’s scary spill. This team is banged up beyond the telling. The who and how of the Caps’ response to those injuries will be all-important in the final nine.
The Umbrella Corporation out-of-town scoreboard was kind. The Leafs fell stunningly to the Blues (check out the Fenwick chart for that one), and the Blue Jackets look poised to beat Detroit in #rego.
So, overall, that night was as big as advertised, complete with a crucial standings point, but at what cost?
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