Goals have been plentiful for the Capitals recently, especially on home ice. But on Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center, they faced a Los Angeles team that came into town with a five-game winning streak that included three shutout victories and just three goals against in the five games.
Not to worry, kid.
The Caps scored twice in the first frame, and before the middle stanza was even four minutes old, Washington had managed as many goals against the Kings as Los Angeles had surrendered during the life of that five-game winning streak.
Video: Grubauer, Oshie power Caps past Kings in 5-0 win
Speaking of that Los Angeles winning streak, it's history. The Caps rolled the Kings 5-0 behind five even-strength goals from five different skaters spread across three different lines and a 38-save performance in goal from Philipp Grubauer, who registered his career high 10th win of the season and the 25th of his NHL career. Grubauer has three shutouts on the season.
"It obviously wasn't a good effort by us," says Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin. "Against a team with that firepower, we have to control the puck better and we didn't do a good job tonight. Our execution wasn't good, and it gave them opportunities to score and they capitalized on it."
The Capitals extended their home ice winning streak to nine straight games. They've scored five or more goals in each of their last eight games on home ice, and they've outscored the opposition by a combined 45-12 during the life of the streak, which includes four shutout victories.
Video: Caps players talk after a 5-0 win against the Kings
"We've got a bunch of confident guys in here," says Caps winger Brett Connolly, who had a goal and an assist in Sunday's win. "A lot of guys are scoring, and a lot of guys are playing pretty well at the top of their game. It's a lot of fun."
Washington's potent bottom six staked the Caps to an early lead. Andre Burakovsky executed a chip and chase play along the right wing wall into Los Angeles ice, and Connolly went into the corner and won the puck. Spotting Lars Eller all alone in front, Connolly fed him. Eller had time to settle the puck, deke and shoot, and he beat Kings goalie Peter Budaj to give Washington a 1-0 lead at 3:16.
The Caps made it 2-0 late in the frame, getting a rush goal from Marcus Johansson, who took a feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov and beat Budaj from the high slot to make it 2-0 at 18:12 of the first.
Early in the second, Connolly took a feed from Tom Wilson and tucked it behind Budaj as the Caps exploited the Kings in transition. Karl Alzner forced a turnover in neutral ice, poking the puck to Wilson and giving Washington a two-on-none rush. Connolly's goal - his 10th of the season - pushed the Caps' lead to 3-0 at 3:43 of the middle period.
Late in the second, a third different Caps line was heard from. Nicklas Backstrom carried into Los Angeles ice down the left wing wall. Unable to shake Kings defender Alec Martinez, Backstrom carried around the back of the Los Angeles net and fed T.J. Oshie, who was stationed in the right circle. Oshie popped a one-timer into a teacup high on the short side, busting the cap on Budaj's water bottle and leaking liquid all over the back of the net.
Video: LAK@WSH: Oshie roofs feed and pops water bottle off
Budaj took the final 20 minutes off, yielding to backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff.
Justin Williams concluded the scoring late in the third, beating his former teammates from the slot a mere five seconds after his current team lost an offensive-zone face-off.
While the Caps were lighting lamps at both ends of the ice, the Kings were pouring double-digit shot totals on Grubauer in each of the game's three periods. Los Angeles is still a big, heavy team that likes to crash the net and seek rebounds and loose change to create second- and third-chance goals, and the Caps were well aware of that proclivity.
Grubauer has been excellent throughout the season, but his rebound control in particular was stellar on Sunday, and that factor was as significant as any other in nailing down his third shutout of the season. He swallowed up virtually everything sent in his direction, and on the odd occasion when he did not do so, he generally placed those rebounds well out of harm's way.
"I don't think I gave up too many [rebounds]" says Grubauer, "and when I did, the guys bailed me out - [John Carlson] there in the second period with the toe save. I tried to keep them to the outside or keep them to my body so there's not a second opportunity for those guys.
Video: LAK@WSH: Grubauer stones Gaborik, dives on the puck
"They score a lot of goals crashing the net and getting those second chances. That was my goal today, to eliminate the second opportunities for them."
Mission accomplished, in that regard. The Caps won their third straight overall and started their four-game homestand off on a winning note, dismantling the Kings as they've done with most recent visitors to Verizon Center.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Caps have now scored five or more goals in eight consecutive home games for the first time in franchise history. They're the first NHL team to achieve that feat in nearly a quarter of a century, since the Pittsburgh Penguins had an eight-game run at the old Igloo in which they netted five or more goals from Feb. 29-March 31, 1992.
"I think you don't want to get into an All-Star Game with them," says Kings coach Darryl Sutter of the Caps. "We're not in that class."
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