LOS ANGELES -- Rookie Adrian Kempe scored the go-ahead goal at 8:46 of the third period to lift the Los Angeles Kings to 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Staples Center on Saturday.
Kempe scored his first NHL goal in his 11th game when he beat goalie Philipp Grubauer from the right faceoff circle.
"I know I've had chances before; I've had a lot of chances," Kempe said. "I should have probably scored before this game, but it was a good feeling when it finally went in."
WATCH: All Capitals vs. Kings highlights
Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter had a goal and an assist, Marian Gaborik scored, and Jonathan Quick made 17 saves for the Kings (33-28-6), who are three points behind the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference.
Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals (44-16-7), who have lost three straight games in regulation for the first time since Feb. 22-27, 2015. Grubauer had 18 saves.
"The Kings did a good job screening," said Grubauer, who made 38 saves in a 5-0 win against the Kings on Feb. 5 at Verizon Center. "A couple shots, they made it really tough to see around. It doesn't matter if it's only one shot. We got to stop that and move forward."
Video: WSH@LAK: Kopitar tips home Carter's shot for PPG
The Capitals are one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
Washington took a 1-0 lead on its first shot on goal when Vrana scored on the power play at 4:35 of the first period.
Before Vrana's goal, the Kings had killed 48 of 50 (96.0 percent) opposition power plays in the previous 20 games.
Gaborik tied the game 1-1 on a goal with 4:30 remaining in the first.
Oshie tapped in the rebound of a Marcus Johansson shot 47 seconds into the second period for a 2-1 Capitals lead. It was his 26th goal, tying his NHL career high from last season.
Kopitar scored a power-play goal by getting his stick on a shot by Carter right in front of Grubauer at 7:20 of the second period to tie it 2-2. It was his ninth goal of the season, third in four games.
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (9:30) and Vrana (10:43) hit the post 1:13 apart in the second.
Carter scored into an empty net with two seconds remaining to make it 4-2. His 31 goals lead the Kings.
Video: WSH@LAK: Gaborik slams a rebound past Grubauer
Goal of the game
The Kings appeared to lose track of Vrana below the goal line, and the rookie snuck out to redirect a Kevin Shattenkirk shot-pass by Quick for his third NHL goal in his 18th game.
Video: WSH@LAK: Shattenkirk, Vrana connect for PPG
Save of the game
Quick made a left-pad save on a shot by Alex Ovechkin from the bottom of the right faceoff circle at 4:49 of the third period.
Video: WSH@LAK: Quick stones Ovechkin with his pads
Highlight of the game
Kempe spun away from Johansson along the boards and scored to put the Kings ahead to stay.
Video: WSH@LAK: Kempe nets a beauty for first NHL goal
Unsung performance of the game
Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had two assists, a plus-1 rating, one shot on goal, one hit and two blocked shots in 19:41, including 4:33 on the power play and 1:09 on the penalty kill. His second assist came on Kempe's game-winner.
They said it
"I thought there were a couple of things that we were a little bit unlucky. We hit a couple of posts there. We could have been up 4-2 in the second period, then to come out 2-2. And then they scored the third (goal). I thought it was a pretty even game. We're going to have to score more than two goals." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz
"There's always frustration. 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 tomorrow (at the Anaheim Ducks)." -- Capitals forward Justin Williams
"Part of it is our style of play, Kings hockey. We just have to stick with it for 60 minutes. It's no secret that we find ourselves in this position a lot, tied games, one-goal games. Our guys are used to being in a position like that. We had a big goal there by Adrian [Kempe]. That was huge for us." -- Kings defenseman Alec Martinez
Need to know
The Kings have scored eight power-play goals in their past five games. … Defenseman Drew Doughty played his 673rd NHL game, tying Mike Murphy for ninth in Kings history. … Ovechkin has one point in the past eight games and hasn't scored an even-strength goal in an NHL career-high 17 games. … The Capitals are 0-5-2 in their past seven games at Los Angeles.
Capitals: At the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, PRIME, CSN-DC, NHL.TV)
Kings: Host the St. Louis Blues on Monday (10 p.m. ET; SNE, SNO, FS-W, FS-MW, NHL.TV)
Video: Kempe nets first NHL goal to lift Kings to 3-2 win