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Kings rally in third, top Capitals in shootout

by Adam Vingan

WASHINGTON -- One night after overcoming a blown two-goal lead in the third period to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, the Los Angeles Kings erased a two-goal third-period deficit and beat the Washington Capitals 5-4 in a shootout at Verizon Center on Tuesday.

Mike Richards, Dwight King, Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown scored for Los Angeles, which has won seven straight road games. Goaltender Jonathan Quick made 23 saves in regulation and overtime.

"I think it was a good character win," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "The boys stuck together, stuck with it. We knew the whole time we were going to get back in that game. That was our entire mindset. It was just continue to bang at it [and] take over that third period and get back in it."

Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Dustin Penner and Evgeny Kuznetsov also had goals for Washington, which missed an opportunity to move into a Stanley Cup Playoff spot for the first time since Jan. 18.

The Capitals are one of four Eastern Conference teams tied at 80 points, but the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings occupy the two wild-card spots because each team has played fewer games than the Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We made mistakes in our zone," Ovechkin said. "We didn't do the right thing and it almost cost us [both] points. It is good in this position [to get] one point. If you take [the first] two periods and maybe five minutes in the third, [I think] we deserved two points."

Ovechkin gave the Capitals an early 1-0 lead at 2:24 on the power play. After receiving a pass from John Carlson at the left circle, Ovechkin settled the puck and surveyed his options before threading a pass toward Nicklas Backstrom, who was roaming back-door. Ovechkin's pass, however, deflected off Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr and behind Quick.

Nearly five minutes later, Ovechkin struck again on the power play, putting another puck past Quick for his NHL-leading 48th goal of the season. With 22 power-play goals, Ovechkin tied a career-high as well as Washington's single-season franchise record he shared with forward Peter Bondra.

The Capitals lost Backstrom early in the second period; he sustained an upper-body injury after absorbing a heavy check from Doughty near the Washington bench at 5:03 and did not return to the game.

"Obviously you miss [Backstrom], but every team has guys that go out," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "You've got 19 other guys that have got to do the job. We have plenty of guys that can do the job."

The Kings cut the deficit to 2-1 at 2:53 of the second period. As Joel Ward's tripping penalty was about to expire, Alec Martinez's point shot hit Richards in front, but Richards was able to outmuscle Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen for the loose puck and slide it past Capitals goaltender Jaroslav Halak (32 saves).

With Los Angeles pressing to tie the game, Washington restored its two-goal lead with 2:42 remaining in the period. Capitals forward Chris Brown drove to the net hard and fired a wrist shot at Quick, who challenged aggressively to make the initial save. With Quick out of position, Brown collected the rebound and slid it to Penner, who scored his first goal since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks on March 4.

Even after the Capitals’ late second-period goal, the Kings still felt like the game was within their grasp.

"After the second [period], we still felt we were right in it," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "It certainly helped coming out of the intermission and scoring in the first minute. It gave us some lift. We were able to build a lead late in the period, but at the end of the day, the two points are all that matter."

King kicked off the Kings' comeback 45 seconds into the third period, converting a Brown rebound to cut the deficit to 3-2. Gaborik tied the game at 8:41, roofing his ninth goal of the season past Halak.

Brown then gave the Kings their first lead of the game at 12:55, taking advantage of a Washington turnover when Capitals defenseman Patrick Wey failed to clear the puck out of the defensive zone. Jarret Stoll picked up the loose puck and threw it towards the net, where it went to Brown for his 14th goal of the season.

With 59 seconds remaining in regulation, Carlson hooked Richards as he carried the puck toward an empty Washington net, putting the Kings on a late power play.

The Capitals pulled Halak to even things up, and with 42 seconds left, Kuznetsov capped off a furious flurry in the crease with his first career NHL goal to tie the game at 4-4.

"It was a big goal that actually got us a point," Oates said. "Shorthanded, it was a good play. We won a draw and [Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov] makes a nice rush up the ice to give us a chance to get the goalie out and dumped it in. I'm sure they relaxed just a little enough and it's a weird situation and sometimes those go in. It was a big goal for him and us. It gets us a point."

Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored in the shootout for Los Angeles, and Quick stopped Kuznetsov and Eric Fehr to seal the victory.

"Lots of character shown to come back first of all, and then it could have been a deflating moment [giving up the late goal]," Kopitar said. "But we held strong."

In overtime, Hillen was knocked out of the game after colliding with Ovechkin near center ice. Hillen was down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off. Oates did not provide an update after the game, other than Hillen was being evaluated.

Los Angeles visits the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday; the Capitals host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

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