Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of power play goals on Monday in Los Angeles, helping the Caps to a 3-2 rebound win over the Kings. The win followed a dismal Sunday night performance in Anaheim and leaves the Caps with a split of a set of back-to-back games in Southern California.
Ovechkin's extra-man tallies raised his league-leading total to 42 on the season, enabling the Caps to end an eight-game losing streak (0-6-2) in Los Angeles, where Washington had scored a grand total of just 13 goals in its previous eight visits. Monday's game marked the first time in more than two months that the Caps were able to generate multiple power-play goals in the same game.
"Obviously 2-for-2, it's a pretty good result," says Ovechkin of the Caps' power play, which has been responsible for generating Washington's first goal of the game in each of the last three games on this trip.
"We played simple, we played smart, and we moved the puck well. That creates opportunity not only for me, but for other guys as well."
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | February 18
Washington dealt with some early adversity in Monday's game, getting a save from Pheonix Copley in a one-on-one situation with Ilya Kovalchuk in the game's second minute. The Caps survived an early Los Angeles power play as well, and then took the lead on their own first kick at the extra man can.
Eighty seconds after Jakub Vrana drew a tripping call on Derek Forbort to give Washington its first power play, Ovechkin staked the Caps to a 1-0 lead for the second time in as many nights. From his left dot office, Ovechkin drove a one-timer past his latest victim, Los Angeles goaltender Jack Campbell. Ovechkin's 41st goal of the season put the Caps up 1-0 at 11:48.
In Sunday's loss at Anaheim, the Caps were never able to add to their early 1-0 lead. They wasted little time in doing so on Monday against the Kings. A mere 20 seconds after Ovechkin's goal, Brett Connolly cruised through the slot and beat Campbell, deflecting an Andre Burakovsky feed from the right point to make it a 2-0 game.
"Obviously on the road, it's nice to get up a couple early and not be chasing the game," says Connolly. "That's when it's really hard - especially back-to-back - so it was nice. [Ovechkin] had a good one there on the first one, and it was nice to get that one right away."
The Caps had some good chances early in the second, and they went back on the power play early in the middle frame, with Vrana again drawing a tripping call, this time on Jeff Carter.
Video: Ovechkin powers Capitals to 3-2 win with two PPGs
Once again, Ovechkin did his thing.
With John Carlson putting the puck on a tee for him for the second time in as many power play opportunities, the Caps' captain cranked home another one-timer from the office to expand Washington's lead to 3-0 at 5:27 of the second period.
In facing Campbell for the first time, Ovechkin dented him twice in as many chances on the power play. Does he do anything differently to prepare for facing a new netminder for the first time?
"Not really," says Ovechkin. "I think he has to figure out what he has to do. I just do my simple job."
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | February 18
That second Ovechkin goal turned out to be the game-winner. The Kings scored twice in the third, getting an Alex Iafallo rush goal off a strong setup from Dustin Brown midway through the third to spoil Copley's shutout bid, and then pulling to within a goal with 27.7 seconds left when Kovalchuk's shot from center point found its way through traffic and behind Copley to make it 3-2. But the Caps closed it out from there, and they'll head back east for the final third of the trip with a 2-2-0 mark to show for the first week of the journey.
In their final road game against a Western Conference opponent this season, the Caps acquitted themselves well and picked up two important points in an ever-tightening Eastern Conference playoff picture. And they won in Los Angeles for the first time in more than 13 years, since Ovechkin was a couple of months into his rookie season on Dec. 14, 2005.
"Special teams are always really important," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "[We got] two huge power-play goals. We were able to take advantage of our speed from Jakub Vrana to draw some penalties. We knew going into the game that we had to play a fast game, and regardless of being back-to-back or not, we wanted to play fast and force them to defend. We were able to capitalize, so it was a big part of the game for us."