In the shadow of the bright lights of Hollywood, the Capitals dropped their third straight game, falling 2-1 to the Kings at Staples Center on Saturday.
Los Angeles appears to a team on the rise from last seaso,n when they finished with the forth fewest wins in the league. In the first period the Capitals were whislted for three penalties, but the game was scoreless until the final minute. On their third chance with the extra man the Kings grabbed a 1-0 lead. Ryan Smyth put home a rebound for his 11th goal of the season with John Erskine in the box for interference. The Caps have been outscored 6-0 in the first 20 minutes of play in the last three games and haven’t been able to get things going early. Against the Kings, the Caps chances were few and far between in the first, testing goalie Jonathan Quick with just four shots while Los Angeles managed 11 against Michal Neuvirth. In the last three games the Caps have only managed 11 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes.
Trailing 1-0 early in the second, Washington evened the score at 1-1 when Mike Green blasted home his 10th of the year. He’s now tied for the league lead in goals by defenseman. The lone assist went to Tom Poti at 2:13 of the period. Green logged 30:33 on the day, the other five Capitals defensemen each had less than 18 minutes of ice time. The Caps picked up the pace in the middle period outshooting the Kings 13-3. Nicklas Backstrom left the game in the second period with migraines and didn’t return.
Special teams play was the story of the day from Staples Center. With the Capitals working with the extra man early in the third period it would be the Kings that found the back of the net. Three Caps were caught behind their own goal, and Michal Handzus faked down Michal Neuvirth to score shorthanded. The goal by Handzus was his ninth of the season, and the fifth shorthanded goal the Capitals have given up this year. The Caps have manged to win three of the five games in which they’ve given up a shortie.
For the second straight game the Caps came up empty on a two-man advantage. In San Jose they failed to score on a :50 second 5-on-3 against the Sharks, and they had another chance with the two man adavantage Saturday afternoon with the same result. Jack Johhson went off for a hook and Sean O’Donnell sent the puck over the glass for delay of game to give the Caps second ranked power play :53 seconds to work with. But the chance would pass by, and the Kings would hold on for the 2-1 victory. The Caps are now 5-4-1 against the West, but will travel out of the Eastern time zone just two more times between now and the end of the regular season.
The Capitals have lost three straight in regulation for the first time this season. It’s their longest winless streak since an
0-1-2 stretch October 30th to November 4th. The Capitals had a lead at some point in 37 of their first 38 games of the season, with the lone exception a 3-0 loss at Buffalo. Washington has not had the lead in any of the three games in the past week.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 17 shots but lost for the second time on the trip. He’s 1-3 on the road. Jonathan Quick turned away 26 of 27 Capitals chances, his best coming when he stacked up the pads to stop Alexander Semin. Quick will be the third goalie for the U.S. at the Olympics behind Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas. His 22 wins this season are one more than he had last season.
Both teams went 1 for 5 on the power play, but that shorthanded goal was the difference maker. The Caps entered the game second in the NHL on the power play behind Montreal.
The combination of Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin totaled nearly half of the Caps shots. Ovechkin had seven, Semin finished with six. The Kings have won seven of the last 11 meetings between the two teams.
The Caps begin a two game homestand on Tuesday night against a Montreal team that won six of seven games on their latest road trip. Ottawa’s in town on Thursday. The Senators have won three of their last four games.
Originally posted on CSNWashington.com