Kings-Capitals: Kings' lineup changes power victory in Washington
When Kings Coach Terry Murray mixes up his line combinations, as happens fairly regularly, players say he’s turning on the blender.
Murray’s blender pumped out some potent concoctions Saturday, powering the Kings to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Anze Kopitar, playing with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds, scored for the first time in 11 games, Andrei Loktionov -- back at center after a stint on left wing -- scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and Handzus and Jarret Stoll scored one minute and 18 seconds apart in the third period to extend the Kings’ point streak to eight games (6-0-2).
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier gave up a goal on Washington’s first shot but wasn’t beaten again.
The Capitals scored 66 seconds into the game, a chance created when Willie Mitchell’s intended pass for defense partner Drew Doughty was intercepted by Alexander Ovechkin. He raced up the other way and took a shot from about 40 feet that glanced off Doughty’s stick and changed direction enough to elude Bernier at 1:06 of the opening period.
The Kings were credited with only four shots in the first period but were more energetic in the second period, tying the score and creating a fair amount of pressure on Semyon Varlamov. They pulled even at 10:41 when Kopitar -- yes, you read that right -- scored his first goal since Jan. 15 and only second in his last 21 games. His new linemates, Handzus and Simmonds, got assists.
Handzus controlled the puck deep in Washington’s zone and got it to Kopitar. He fed Simmonds, who put the puck in front. Varlamov got his stick on it but the puck popped up and Kopitar lifted it over a fallen Varlamov for his first goal in 11 games and 17th this season.
Loktionov, moved from the left side to his natural center spot for this game, gave the Kings a 2-1 lead at 3:36 of the third period. Matt Greene made it the play possible with a long lead pass to Kyle Clifford, whose shot was stopped by Varlamov. But the rebound was left there for Loktionov, who scored from short range.
Handzus converted the rebound of a shot by Simmonds at 12:38 of the third period and Stoll scored off a two-on-one rush for the Kings’ final goals.
The Kings have given up three goals or fewer in 14 consecutive games and improved to 3-0-2 in their stretch of 10 straight road games.
--Helene Elliott, reporting from Washington
Photo: Capitals right wing Mike Knuble shoots the puck as Kings center Andrei Loktionov tries to disrupt the play in the second period Saturday at Verizon Center. Credit: Geoff Burke / US Presswire