LOS ANGELES -- One flick of the wrists by Jeff Carter turned a potentially awful loss into a triumphant night for the Los Angeles Kings.
Carter scored 2:50 into overtime to give the Kings a 4-3 win against the Washington Capitals at Staples Center on Wednesday.
After the Kings squandered a 3-0 lead in the third period, Carter gave them the victory when he took a pass from Milan Lucic and lifted a shot over Capitals goalie Braden Holtby as Washington made a line change.
The Kings (40-22-4) regained first place in the Pacific Division, moving one point ahead of the Anaheim Ducks. Los Angeles is 7-2-0 in its past nine games and is off until it hosts the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
"We played a real good first period and then got away from our game a little bit," Carter said. "We'll learn from it and we'll be there."
Video: WSH@LAK: Orlov's backhand goal ties game
Defenseman Drew Doughty set up the play when he circled back into the neutral zone to get the Kings reorganized. Carter's third goal in two games and 301st of his career allowed Los Angeles to take back first place in a neck-and-neck race with the Ducks, who lost 3-0 at the Colorado Avalanche.
"We want to get home ice," Carter said. "We've seen the last few times we've been in the playoffs how big Game 7s are, and when you have it in your home rink it's a big advantage."
The Capitals (49-13-5) forced overtime when T.J. Oshie ,Nicklas Backstrom and Dmitry Orlov scored in the third period but ended up with their first loss on a four-game trip that ends Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. Washington played its 12th straight one-goal game and has gone past regulation in each of its past three games.
Capitals right wing Justin Williams said he couldn't reconcile getting a point.
"No. Nope. Nothing. Zero," Williams said. "It's been our Achilles' heel. Our starts have been terrible. We can't come back every night. It's certainly not going to happen, so we need to jump on that."
Video: WSH@LAK: Oshie nets PPG, puts Capitals on the board
The Kings took a 3-0 lead on goals by Vincent Lecavalier, Jake Muzzin and Lucic in a span of less than nine minutes in the first period. It was the first time this season the Capitals trailed 3-0 after one period.
Lecavalier scored a power-play goal at 4:52, and Muzzin made it 2-0 at 12:05 with his eighth goal of the season. Lucic put the Kings up by three at 13:26 when he tapped in a pass from Carter, who passed around sprawled Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen to set up Lucic's 16th goal.
Orlov tied the game with 3:22 remaining in the third period when he stickhandled down the middle through traffic and lifted a backhand over Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. It was the defenseman's eighth goal of the season.
"I think we learned a pretty good lesson today in that third period that we can't take anything for granted," Lucic said. "When we don't play the right way, we let teams back in it."
Video: WSH@LAK: Martinez's shot hits Lecavalier, goes in
Oshie scored a power-play goal 1:46 into the third, and Backstrom made it 3-2 at 11:02.
The Capitals have allowed the first goal in 12 of their past 14 games.
Williams and center Mike Richards were recognized in separate video tributes in their return to Staples Center and got ovations. Each was a member of the Kings' 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championship teams.
"Anytime you get a reaction like that, you're going to have some emotions," Williams said. "I'm not a stiff, you know? I'm not a robot. But obviously nice to see. But kind of after that, it was just a standard hockey game we're trying to win and obviously trying to come back and win with the … poor start we had."
Video: Kings lose lead but triumph over Caps in OT