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Kings' outstanding start pays off in 4-3 OT win

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES – A monumental first period was almost not enough for the Kings Wednesday night, who managed to close the deal, pocketing a pair of points in their 4-3 OT win over the Washington Capitals at STAPLES Center.

The win moved the Kings back into sole possession of first-place in the Pacific Division.

“It was that first period that got us that win here tonight,” Milan Lucic said following the game.

The Kings came out with a vengeance in the opening frame, scoring three goals on the NHL’s winningest goaltender Braden Holtby, putting up a commanding lead on the league’s best team.

It was almost all for not, though; Washington rallied with three third period goals.

“We played a good first period, started to slow down a bit, we can’t let teams back in like that,” Jeff Carter said. “We’ve got to play a full 60, especially in these games, they’re huge, so we’ll take the two points but we’ve got a lot of work.”

While working on their first power play of the evening, Vincent Lecavalier’s skate got a piece of an Alec Martinez point shot that had already been redirected by Tanner Pearson to give the Kings a 1-0 lead less than five minutes in.

12 minutes in, as the Kings were driving into Washington’s zone, Jake Muzzin joined the rush, received a pass from Tanner Pearson and sent a wrist-shot high past Braden Holtby’s glove side to score his eighth of the season.

Just over a minute after Muzzin’s goal, Milan Lucic gave the Kings a 3-0 lead when he touched home a Jeff Carter pass while the two powered their way toward Washington’s net on an odd-man rush.

Niether team having scored in the second, the Kings entered the third with a comfortable lead.

Those can be dangerous.

T.J. Oshie scored on the Capitals first and only power play of the evening, bringing Washington to within two just over a minute into the final frame.

With nine minutes left in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom buried a loose puck after a sprawling Jonathan Quick made a pair of outstanding saves.

Dmitry Orlov, with a gorgeous individual effort, tied the game with three-plus minutes left to play.

In overtime, the Kings executed when they got fresh legs on the ice after a well articulated line-change took place. Drew Doughty, taking the puck out of Washington’s zone and possessing it in the neutral zone, allowed the well-rested likes of Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic to hop over the boards.

Doughty found Lucic with a pass at the Capitals’ blue-line, who then found Carter with a pass as he fled toward Washington’s net. Carter handled Lucic’s feed cleanly and chipped the game-winning goal up and over a sprawling Braden Holtby to secure the Kings’ 4-3 victory.

The win, the Kings’ 40th of the season, marked the fastest the team has reached that mark in franchise history (66 games). The 2009-’10 club accomplished the feat in their 67th game.

Head Coach Darryl Sutter tied Bob Pulford for second on the Kings’ all-time wins list (178).

Milan Lucic (1G, 1A), Tanner Pearson (2A), and Jeff Carter (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Jeff Carter in shots taken (6), Dustin Brown in hits delivered (7), Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez in shots blocked (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (27:56). Jonathan Quick made 29 saves in the win.

The Kings will finish off their five-game home stand Saturday night when they host the New Jersey Devils at STAPLES Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:30 PM PST.

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