LOS ANGELES – The Kings and Washington Capitals played a game Wednesday night at the Staples Center that was tight-fisted, physical and low-scoring – exactly as the Kings would have preferred, except for a result that went in Washington’s favor, 2 – 0.
The Capitals entered the match as the NHL’s fourth highest scoring team and their top scorer, winger Alex Ovechkin, recently became the fourth leading scorer in NHL history. Meanwhile, the Kings were allowed to score 1.75 goals per game during their eight-game point streak, which ended on Wednesday.
Jonathan Quick made 36 saves in his first loss since October 28.
Quick entered a four-game winning streak on the night that allowed him to score two or fewer goals in each win, including a .971 save percentage and a 0.98 goal-average. He made a number of athletic saves, including his tormenting center Aliaksi Protas, first from a sterling one-timer and later from a promising wraparound.
Forward Garnet Hathaway scored twice for the Capitals, once in an empty net. Ovechkin had six shots on goal, and Ilya Samsonov made 34 saves for the shutout.
Just after 3:30, Washington defenseman John Carlson cautiously watched Hathaway at the door. He faked a shot and sent a pass to Hathaway that was initially deflected by defenseman Matt Roy, but then pushed home by Hathaway for the first goal of the game and a celebration that was equal parts joy and relief.
The Kings hit their second penalty of the night before the midpoint of the third period, the highlight of which was a quick beating Ovechkin’s hard one-timer.
The Kings dodged a shot in the first minute of the third period when Ovechkin drove the puck with momentum as part of a two-on-one rush. Center Conor McMichael could not keep up, averting any trouble. The Kings earned the next big chance, with Adrian Kempe’s one-timer denied by Samsonov.
The second period showed slightly more offense for both sides, but a broad penalty (four) scored in another unscored frame.
The Kings took their first penalty of 12:35 in the second period when center blazed Lizzote high-stick defenseman Dmitry Orlov. The Capitals hit the net three times on the power play, with Ovechkin accounting for one of those shots and setting up the other.
Seven minutes into the second period, defenseman Ollie Matta’s sensible shot-pass set up a wide-open Trevor Moore for a one-timer, but his sharp shot hit the post on the Kings’ best scoring opportunity to that point. Gave.
The Kings had advantages across the board in key possession metrics, a 14-9 lead in shot on goal and the only power play in the first period, but it ended without a score.
With a little more than five minutes left in the first period, Washington failed to score an awkward-to-man goal, but retrieved the puck on the forecheck. King’s defenseman Alex Adler picked up the stick of first winger Tom Wilson and sent it into the ice to block a dangerous shot and cheer the crowd. Adler then blocked his subsequent shot attempt to end the capture.
Winger Viktor Arvidsson returned to action for the first time since October 30, when he entered COVID-19 protocol and then overcame another illness. He made four shots on the goal.
There is much more to come on this story.