The Capitals started off the California road trip with an ugly 4-0 loss in Anaheim. Washington put up more of a fight on Thursday in Los Angeles, but the result was the same in the end as the Caps fell 3-1 to the Kings.
Philipp Grubauer got the start in net and turned aside 26 of the 28 shots he faced, but he was bested by his counterpart, Jonathan Quick, who allowed only one goal to the Caps. Jakub Vrana provided the only offense for Washington on the night as he knocked in a puck out of midair to tie the game at 1 in the second period. Trevor Lewis, however, responded with a similar midair tally to restore Los Angeles' lead for good.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Jeff Carter: A lower-body injury forced Carter to miss 55 games this season. In that time, the Kings went from one of the top teams in the league to the playoff bubble. The effect he has on this team was evident on Thursday as he recorded a goal and an assist to lead Los Angeles. He corralled a wayward pass on a failed clear by T.J. Oshie sparking an offensive cycle that resulted in the game's first goal which he scored as he tapped a puck in the net after it squeaked through Grubauer.
In the second period, he pounced on a turnover in the neutral zone and fired a backhand pass right to the tape of Trevor Lewis who would drive the net for the goal.
2. Tom Wilson: Wilson is just the latest example of why professional athletes are different than normal people. In what was a scary moment, Wilson took a puck right to the forehead in the second period as a Jake Muzzin slapshot deflected up off of Nicklas Backstrom's stick. Wilson went down, then popped back to his feet, hand to his head and very quickly made his way to the locker room.
While most of us would have called out of work for the rest of the month, Wilson, however, was back for the start of the third period. And if you think a puck to the head would keep Wilson from playing a physical game, you are wrong. Wilson laid a clean shoulder check on Nate Thompson that cleaned him out. Kyle Clifford took exception and even dropped the gloves with Wilson, ignoring the giant gash in his head. The two grappled with Wilson trying to point to his head to show he couldn't fight despite Clifford's baffling insistence.
Thankfully, the referees stopped it and rightly gave Clifford an extra two minutes on the play. Wilson had a game-high seven hits, but he was also Washington's best player on the ice.
3. Trevor Lewis: The difference in this game was ultimately a strong individual play by Lewis to score the game-winning goal. A pass from Carter launched the rush by Lewis who was able to get three shots away on the drive to eventually get the goal. Grubauer stopped the first two, but Lewis was able to whack a midair puck into the net to give the Kings back the lead.
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