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Kings rally in third, top Capitals in shootout

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

Sometimes you praise skill, sometimes you praise effort, sometimes you even praise a bit of luck.

Chalk tonight’s praise up to mental toughness.

Plagued by penalties early on, Alexander Ovechkin single-handedly put the Kings on their heels in the opening minutes of tonight’s contest.

Washington took a 2-0 lead seven minutes into the game on a pair of Ovechkin power play goals, and that was only a fraction of tonight’s action.

After a first period that saw the Kings’ wind knocked out in the opening minutes, they showed resilience to start the second period, after a rather discombobulated, lethargic, and disappointing opening frame.

This attitude adjustment, a nod to the Kings’ mental strength if you will, is what carried them through the evening to a 5-4 SO victory Tuesday night at Washington’s Verizon Center.

Mike Richards sparked the Kings’ efforts to rebound, cutting the Capitals lead to 2-1 on the Kings’ second power play of the night, beating Jaroslav Halak with his back turned to Washington’s goaltender after an Alec Martinez shot caught him in front of the net.

It was Richards’ 11th goal of the season, his second in the past three games.

After the Kings maintained pressure, and continued to reclaim momentum, former King Dustin Penner gave Washington a 3-1 lead with 2:42 to play in the second period after Jonathan Quick botched and fumbled a Capitals rebound.

The third period came; the Kings’ offensive onslaught began.

:45 seconds into the third, Dwight King cut Washington’s lead to 3-2 , as he buried home a rebound after crashing the Capitals’ net as Dustin Brown shot the puck.

King’s goal was his 14th of the season; his second in as many games, and has three points (2G, 1A) in the Kings’ previous three.

Marian Gaborik tied the game for the Kings with a gorgeous goal, beating Jaroslav Halak with a quick release, sending the puck top shelf and out in a flash. Gaborik’s goal knotted the score 3-3 with 11:19 to play in regulation time.

Just over four minutes later, Dustin Brown buried the Kings’ third straight goal to take the first lead of the evening over Washington with 7:05 to play. Brown batted home a rebound amidst traffic in front of the Capitals’ net, beating Halak through the five hole.

After Mike Richards was hooked down on a breakaway attempt with Washington’s net empty in the final minute, the Capitals took advantage of the lifeline they attained.

Evgeny Kuzentsov tied the game with :41.8 seconds left on the clock, tapping home a lose puck that sat behind Jonathan Quick as the Capitals were once again playing in desperation mode with their goaltender pulled.

The Kings maintained a power play for the remainder of regulation, and in the opening minute of overtime, but they couldn’t capitalize.

After a rather even, back-and-forth overtime period, the contest extended to a shootout.

Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter both scored on their breakaways, and Jonathan Quick stymied both Evgeny Kuznetsov and Eric Fehr to seal two points for the Kings in Washington.

The Kings are now 2-0-0 on their three-game road trip through Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. They’ll finish their swing Thursday evening against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Consol Energy Center.

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