The Caps are in the midst of some offensive doldrums the likes of which haven't been seen in these parts for quite some time. For the first time in more than six years, Washington has scored two or fewer goals in five straight games. Since coming out of their bye week in the middle of February, the Capitals have scored two or fewer goals in nine of 11 games, posting a pedestrian 5-5-1 record in the process.
"They're just not coming easy," says Caps coach Barry Trotz, noting that his team hit a pair of goalposts in what was a 2-2 game midway through the second period. "If they go in the net, we're talking [about how] we got four [goals]. But they didn't.
Video: Trotz talks after a 4-2 loss in Los Angeles
"You've got to fight through it. We've got to get to the net and we've got to shoot, all those type of things. We can bring our penalties down a bit as well."
After Kempe's goal gave Los Angeles its first lead of the game, the Caps still had more than 11 minutes remaining with which to answer with an equalizer. But a pair of undisciplined and unnecessary penalties late in the game ultimately short-circuited and hopes the Caps may have had of rallying to earn a point or two.
Kevin Shattenkirk took a charging minor with 4:03 remaining in the game and Evgeny Kuznetsov was sent off for slashing with 34.6 seconds left on the clock. The Kings made it a 4-2 game on a Jeff Carter empty-netter at 19:58.
On Sunday morning, the Caps learned that Shattenkirk will have a phone hearing with the league's department of player safety for his charging penalty against Kings' defenseman Kevin Gravel. That minor penalty was Shattenkirk's third of the game.
The last time the Capitals went as many as five straight games without scoring more than two goals was Dec. 9-18, 2010 when Washington did so in five straight games and in seven of eight contests during an eight game slide (0-6-2) in the weeks leading up to the 2011 Winter Classic against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Video: WSH Recap: Oshie, Vrana score in 4-2 road loss
Three By 4-2 - Washington dropped a third straight 4-2 decision on Saturday night, this time to the Kings in Los Angeles. The loss leaves the Caps pointless in the first two games of their three-game California road trip with the finale of the journey looming against the Ducks in Anaheim on Sunday.
Saturday's setback also saddles the Caps with their first three-game regulation losing streak in more than two years, since Feb. 22-27, 2015.
"There's always frustration," says Caps right wing Justin Williams. "You can't whine and cry about it. We lost three in a row, big deal. Now we have to pick it up and get the next one. Good news is there is usually a game the next day and we have one [Sunday]."
Washington scored first and led twice in Saturday's game, but the Caps were never able to add to those leads and they went to the room with the game tied at both intermissions.
When Kings rookie Adrian Kempe netted his first NHL goal - and what would prove to be the game-winner - at 8:46 of the third period on Saturday, it ended a span of 14 minutes and 18 seconds of playing time in which the Kings weren't able to muster a shot on goal.
Washington limited Los Angeles to just 14 even-strength shots on net for the game, but the Capitals were only able to manage 16 even-strength shots on goal of their own.
Video: Caps players talk after #CapsKings
Ch-Ch-Ch Changes - Trotz tweaked his forward lines ahead of Saturday's game, giving his team its biggest pregame makeover in more than two months. While the changes didn't help the Caps to score more than two goals, they did seem to spark the team's captain.
Playing on a line with Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, Ovechkin had more touches and chances at five-on-five than he has had in most recent games. He had six shots on net and accounted for 15 shot attempts, nearly a third of Washington's team total of 48 for the game.
"I thought he was skating really well," says Trotz of Ovechkin. "He was dangerous every shift. He was a force. It will come; you've got to stay with it, that's all."
Up And Then Down - For the second time in as many games and for the 47th time in 67 games this season, the Capitals scored the game's first goal on Saturday against the Kings. But for the second time in as many games, the Caps also lost despite scoring first.
Washington has scored the game's first goal more frequently than any other team this season, and the Caps are 36-7-4 when they do so. The Caps' .766 points percentage when scoring first is second in the league to only Ottawa (.813).
Video: WSH@LAK: Shattenkirk, Vrana connect for PPG
Power Trio - Caps winger Jakub Vrana scored the game's first goal for the Caps on Saturday, netting his third goal of the season and scoring the game's first goal for the second time in a span of five games. All three of Vrana's goals have come on the power play.
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears spent Saturday night on the road where they bounced the Binghamton Senators by a 7-1 score.
Getting goals from seven different sources, Hershey scored four times in the first and three times in the third while the lone Senators goal came in the second period.
Kelly Zajac (his fourth of the season), Liam O'Brien (his ninth), Ryan Bourque (his third), and Hubert Labrie (his second) all scored in the first frame.
After the Sens scored in the second to narrow the deficit to three, Hershey got goals from Paul Carey (his 18th), Christian Thomas (his 23rd) and Chris Bourque (his 17th) in the third period. Thomas scored his goal on a penalty shot.
Bears blueliner Christian Djoos had three assists in the game; he was the only Hershey skater with as many as three points in the game. With 34 assists on the season, Djoos is tied for second in the AHL among defensemen. He ranks fourth among all AHL blueliners in scoring with 44 points despite playing in just 52 games.
Vitek Vanecek stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced in the Hershey nets, improving his record to 16-10-7 on the season.
Hershey returns home to host the Providence Bruins on Sunday afternoon at Giant Center.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays earned a 2-1 home ice win over the Florida Everblades at North Charleston Coliseum on Saturday night.
Rob Flick scored both South Carolina goals to support the 29-save efforts of Parker Milner in the Stingrays' crease. Milner improves to 19-12-1-0 on the season.
The same two teams meet again on Sunday afternoon at the same location.
By The Numbers - John Carlson led the Caps with 21:48 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Caps in shots on net (six) and shot attempts (15) … Ovechkin, Wilson and Karl Alzner led the Caps with four hits each … Matt Niskanen led Washington with three blocked shots … T. J. Oshie's 26th goal of the season matches his single-season career best, established in 2015-16.