February 19, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 71 Recap: Caps steal a point in L.A.

It would have been very easy for the Washington Capitals to go out on this late season trip through California without earning a single point, then come back to D.C. and start cleaning the golf clubs.

But Joel Ward’s third period goal forced overtime and the Caps, despite falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the shootout, have earned three of four points thus far on their West Coast swing, with the San Jose Sharks looming Saturday night.

The Caps played perhaps their best team-defense game of the season, with Jaroslav Halak stellar in net once again with 27 saves matching the Kings’ Jonathan Quick (21 saves) all evening long.

Washington remains one point behind Columbus and the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division and the Wild Card chase with 11 games to play.

Anze Kopitar opened the scoring in the first period, beating Halak on a quick wrist shot through the five-hole. The Kings owned the better of play in the first and most of the second, but the Caps penalty kill was strong once again, killing minors to Jason Chimera and two by Nick Backstrom.

The equalizer came at 12:24 of the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov, playing in his sixth NHL game, carried the puck along the right wing dasher to the goal line and snuck a pass through the crease to Joel Ward. Ward’s first attempt banged off defenseman Drew Doughty’s skate, but caromed right back to Ward, who got better wood on the second attempt and lifted it past Quick to even it up.

It was Ward’s 22nd goal of the season.

Both teams survived a frenetic final five minutes, and the Caps were unable to take advantage of a 4-on-3 power play in overtime despite several quality attempts, each spoiled by Quick.

Kuznetsov beat Quick in his first-ever shootout attempt in the NHL, but Ovechkin and Backstrom were both denied and the Caps had to be satisfied with just one point in L.A.

The Caps may not eventually qualify for the playoffs, but at least they are giving themselves a fighting chance with their performance in California this week. It makes one wonder where this effort ahs been all season long.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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