Feb. 18 vs. Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Radio: Capitals Radio 24/7, FAN 106.7
Washington Capitals 32-20-7
Los Angeles Kings 23-29-6
A week after they earned a 6-4 home ice win over the Los Angeles Kings in the finale of a six-game homestand in Washington, the Caps are finishing off their season's series against the Kings on Monday night in the City of Angels. Monday's game also finishes off a set of back-to-back games for the Caps, and it is the final road game the Capitals will play against a Western Conference opponent in 2018-19.
The Caps started the set of back-to-backs with a 5-2 loss to the lowly Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday. Maybe the Caps were expecting an easy night of it against the Ducks, who had won only three of their previous 23 games (3-16-4) before Washington came to town. Anaheim had been outscored by a whopping 37-8 during the life of an ugly seven-game losing streak that ultimately cost head coach Randy Carlyle his job. General manager Bob Murray went down to the bench to coach on an interim basis, and the Ducks have been much stingier defensively since, giving up only five goals in three games, not including empty-netters.
Washington took an early 1-0 lead on Alex Ovechkin's 40th goal of the season, but the Caps weren't able to expand that lead and were outplayed from start to finish.
Video: WSH@ANA: Ovechkin pots PPG for his 40th of the season
"The details of our game got away from us there," said Caps coach Todd Reirden after the game, "whether it's areas that have plagued us through the year, which are face-offs or special teams. We get ourselves in the game, and when it comes right down to it the details of the game are important. We were lacking in those for 60 minutes tonight."
From the start of the game, Anaheim kept the Caps from getting through the neutral zone with any consistency, but Washington didn't do much to alter its approach over the next 60 minutes.
"They were just kind of clogging it up," says Caps center Lars Eller. "It's hard when they're getting long [offensive] zone time, and then you're coming out and you don't have a lot of energy. So you're battling to kind of get it out, and if you're at the end of that shift, then it's easier to start making little mistakes. Then the pass is not exactly where it should be, and some guy is two feet behind where he maybe should be, not being in the passing lane, and then things start going wrong.
"Those are the little things. When we're good, we are having those long attacks and then they get out, and we force a turnover and then we go back in their zone. That's how we play when we're good, and we didn't see a lot of that today."
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | February 17
Sunday's loss leaves the Caps with a 1-2-0 record through the first half of the trip. Washington won 10 of 12 road games (10-2-0) from mid-November to late December, but the Caps are now 3-6-1 in their last 10 road games in the wake of Sunday's setback.
In last Monday's win over the Kings in Washington, the Caps were finishing up a six-game homestand while Los Angeles was concluding a six-game road trip. The Kings came home with a respectable 3-2-1 mark for the trip, but they've lost the first two games (0-1-1) of a three-game homestand that ends on Monday with the Capitals visit to Staples Center.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals and four points to lead the Caps' attack in the win over the Kings last week, a game in which Los Angeles briefly led 3-2 early in the second period.
Ensconced at or near the bottom of the Pacific Division standings since suffering a six-game losing streak in late October, Los Angeles has played better of late but is likely too far down and has too many teams to climb over to make a playoff push, and the Kings are expected to be sellers as the Feb. 25 trade deadline draws near.
Los Angeles has earned at least a point in 16 of its last 26 games (12-10-4), and the Caps haven't won on the road here since early in Ovechkin's rookie season, when they picked up a 3-2 victory on Dec. 14, 2005.
Since then, the Caps are 0-6-2 on the road in Los Angeles, and they've scored more than two goals only once in those eight games. The Caps scored three goals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Kings on March 9, 2016, and they've been limited to two or fewer in seven of their last eight games here. Los Angeles has doubled up Washington 26-13 in the Caps' last eight visits here.
Video: WSH Recap: Ovi reaches 40 goals in 5-2 loss