GRUBAUER SPECTACULAR WITH 39 SAVES; KUZNETSOV NETS WINNER LATE IN THIRD
Brooks Orpik finally returned after a long absence to play his fifteenth game of the season, but it was Philipp Grubauer’s 14th appearance in net this year that propelled the Caps to a hard-fought victory.
Grubauer made 39 saves, keeping the Caps competitive on the way to the 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The young netminder stopped everything from nasty rebounds to one-on-one breakaways — the backup keeper was nothing short of astounding in play.
The Kings (33-20-3 69 points) and Washington Capitals (41-10-4 86 points) faced off at Verizon in a game that at times felt like one that would be played in June, as Justin Williams and Mike Richards took on their former club.A little role reversal took place on the game winning goal. After a failed shot attempt, Williams gathered the puck and sent a behind-the-net pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who flicked the puck just past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick, who also was superb.
The first goal for the Caps came in the second after nearly a full period of seeming to see every player pass instead of shoot. Dimitri Orlov slapped a pass to the front of the net that a streaking Andre Burakovsky netted to tie up the game. Burakovsky continued his hot streak with his 16th point in 14 games and got a much needed game-tying goal with less than a minute left in the second.
Jason Chimera finished it off by snapping in an empty-net goal to seal the victory, notching his 16th goal of the season.
Orpik made his return to the ice after missing 40 games with an injury. He was awarded the secondary assist on Orlov’s goal, giving him his third point of the season.
The NHL’s top two power plays had plenty of opportunities to show off in the first period with five total penalties called, but it was ultimately a short-handed goal against the Caps on their third power play that put the Kings on the board and proved to be the Kings’ only goal.
On the kill, Drew Doughty tapped the puck away as Marcus Johansson attempted to set up Ovechkin. Anze Kopitar took the puck and the opportunity to take a clean shot at Grubauer, who deflected the chance but was not so lucky with the rebound.
The Caps ended up going 0 for 5 on the power play and are now 3 for 33 in an uncharacteristic drought.
NEXT GAME : The Caps travel to Brooklyn to face the Islanders on Thursday at 7 p.m.