Thursday marked the first time the Capitals have seen Los Angeles this season and while its reputation as the strongest puck possession team in the NHL is no secret, opponents often need time to adjust to the way the Kings take away time and space, making it appear as though they shrunk the rink.
Try to chip the puck off the boards? The Kings block it. Try to make a lackadaisical pass through the neutral zone? The Kings pick it off. Get in the offensive zone with possession? The Kings knock you off the puck. There’s little room for opponents to operate and fleeting seconds to make a decision before Los Angeles skaters converge.
By their own admittance, the Capitals took some time to adjust to Los Angeles’s style of play as it was the first time the teams had met this season. Washington will get another crack at the Kings, though, in just five days at Verizon Center.
Chuck Gormley: With another point, Caps in thick of playoff hunt
It’s been only six games but it’s hard not to get overly excited about Caps rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 21-year-old native of Chelyabinsk, Russia picked up his fifth assist on Ward’s game-tying goal in the third period by knifing to the right side of the net and, instead of wrapping around the net, snapped a backdoor pass to Ward, catching Jonathan Quick out of position. Kuznetsov also scored on his first career shootout attempt with a quick snap shot.
SB Nation: JAPERS’ RINK
Fun fact: Prior to tonight’s game, Alex Ovechkin had scored 417 goals in his highly-decorated career. Not one of those 417 goals had been scored in Los Angeles. That streak continues.
The Caps have become notorious for giving up a boatload of shots to their opponent, ranking among the League’s worst in that department. Combine that with the fact that LA is no slouch in generating shots, and the fact that the Caps managed to keep the shots-against below 30 is big positive… and makes it almost okay that they didn’t generate a whole lot at the other end, with just 22 shots aimed at Jonathan Quick.
RUSSIAN MACHINE NEVER BREAKS
Peter Hassett: Worth Staying Up For: Kings beat Caps 2-1 (SO)
Again: playoff rules are in effect. I don’t care about possession stats. That’s a good thing, because the Kings stomped a mudhole tonight.
The Caps had no reason to expect a loser point or a win, but they played thick and proud. They truly did limit high-risk shots by LA, and Halak was good enough to stop the remainder. A win would’ve been fantastic, but an overtime loss doesn’t sting at all.