LOS ANGELES (AP) - Back on the road with the worst overall record in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals had four days off to work on their struggling special-team play. It all came together just in time against the Los Angeles Kings.
Brian Sutherby tied the score with a short-handed goal midway through the third period and Jamie Heward added his second power-play goal of the game with 1:03 left, rallying the Capitals to a 3-2 victory Wednesday night.
"It was nice to have our power play win a game for us," Heward said. "We've worked so hard at making it better and getting to a position where we could win. We've tried to find an identity we can rely on every night, and that's hard work. We had four days to kind of figure out what we wanted to do and where we needed to improve, and it paid off."
Eric Belanger and Sean Avery scored on the power play for the Kings, who have lost six of eight. The victory was only the third in 14 road games this season for the Capitals.
Sutherby got the equalizer while teammate Brian Willsie was serving a hooking penalty. He cut in front of the crease and flipped the puck between Jason LaBarbera's stick and the left post for his sixth goal in 11 games, following an 18-game drought to start the season.
"The goals aside, Brian's played very consistent the whole season," Heward said. "He's one of those guys we count on every night to play against the other team's top line and create havoc for them. And if he can score a goal while doing it, then that's a bonus for us.
"Even though Brian didn't get any goals at the start of the year, he deserved some. But hockey's a streaky type of game, and he was playing just as well without any as he is now. So it's nice that a guy who works hard like that is getting rewarded."
Kings defenseman Tim Gleason was sent off for high-sticking Chris Clark in front of the net with 1:10 left, and Washington capitalized on the ensuing power play when Heward took a slap from the right point that beat LaBarbera high to the stick side with Washington captain Jeff Halpern creating a screen.
"The last 40 minutes they initiated most of the play," Kings captain Mattias Norstrom said. "We tried to respond, but we were a step back and took unnecessary penalties and had to play on our heels. This is the result we are going to see every night if we don't work harder."
The Capitals, who came in averaging eight shots on net fewer than their opponents, finished with a 29-26 advantage against the Kings. It was the fourth straight road game in which Washington outshot its opponent - including margins of 45-28 in a loss to Pittsburgh and 37-26 in a loss to the Rangers, which ended in a shootout that went a record 15 rounds.
"We've played really well on the road and hadn't gotten any results," Heward said. "We just weren't getting the breaks we thought we deserved, but tonight we got a break. We got a short-handed goal to tie it for us and a power-play goal to win. Those are things that weren't going our way before, so this was an indication of what our team can do."
Seven penalties were called during a 5:18 span of the first period, one of them against Kings leading scorer Pavol Demitra for playing with an illegal stick after Washington coach Glen Hanlon asked the referees to measure it. Two other penalties resulted in power-play goals, one by Heward at 6:13 of the period with Luc Robitaille off for goalie interference, the other by Belanger at 13:22 with Andrew Cassels off for hooking.
Heward opened the scoring with his fourth goal, beating LaBarbera from the edge of the crease after rookie Alex Ovechkin's sharp-angle shot from the right circle struck the goalie's left leg. Ovechkin also had an assist on Heward's second game-winner of the season.
Notes: Demitra's illegal stick must have brought a crooked grin to the face of former Kings defenseman Marty McSorley, whose illegally curved stick was a factor in the Kings losing the 1993 Stanley Cup finals to Montreal. McSorley is currently an in-studio commentator during Kings' telecasts on Fox Sports Net. ... Avery leads the NHL with 108 penalty minutes, but has none in his last four games. ... Kings D Joe Corvo entered the game plus-minus rating of plus-20, the best of any player who isn't with the Ottawa Senators. The Senators have four players at plus-20 or better. ... Wednesday was the 23rd anniversary of the night Marcel Dionne of the Kings scored his 500th career goal - against the Capitals. ... Washington failed to score in the second period for the first time in 14 games.
|PPG - Jamie Heward (4) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (15), Matt Pettinger (4)|
1 - 0 WSH
|PPG - Eric Belanger (11) ASST: Pavol Demitra (23), Lubomir Visnovsky (20)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Sean Avery (7) ASST: Aaron Miller (4), Mattias Norstrom (9)|
2 - 1 LAK
|SHG - Brian Sutherby (6) ASST: Steve Eminger (12), Brendan Witt (5)|
2 - 2 Tie
|PPG - Jamie Heward (5) ASST: Alex Ovechkin (16), Dainius Zubrus (6)|
3 - 2 WSH
|Luc Robitaille Interference - Goalkeeper against Olie Kolzig|
|Steve Eminger Holding against Eric Belanger|
|Andrew Cassels Hooking against Jeff Giuliano|
|Brendan Witt Interference against Sean Avery|
|Ivan Majesky Tripping against Jeremy Roenick|
|Pavol Demitra Illegal stick|
|Shaone Morrisonn Hi-sticking against Craig Conroy|
|Luc Robitaille Tripping against Brendan Witt|
|Mattias Norstrom Tripping against Alex Ovechkin|
|Dainius Zubrus Holding against Mike Weaver|
|Mike Weaver Hooking against Matt Bradley|
|Brendan Witt Interference against Jeremy Roenick|
|Aaron Miller Hooking against Andrew Cassels|
|Andrew Cassels Abuse of officials|
|Mike Cammalleri Too many men on the ice|
|Eric Belanger Hooking against Brian Willsie|
|Jeff Giuliano Hi-sticking against Brian Sutherby|
|Mattias Norstrom Hooking against Matt Pettinger|
|Brian Willsie Hooking against Aaron Miller|
|Mike Cammalleri Hooking against Brian Sutherby|
|Steve Eminger Interference against Dustin Brown|
|Tim Gleason Hi-sticking against Chris Clark|