The Capitals overcame a lopsided first period to keep it close with the Los Angeles Kings on a night when Darcy Kuemper made 40 saves, but they couldn’t find a way to secure the equalizer late as they fell 4-2 in regulation.
Kuemper did all he could to keep the Capitals in a game that saw the Kings finish with a 41-22 advantage in shots on goal. Though tallies by captain Alex Ovechkin and newcomer Rasmus Sandin gave them plenty of life, the team’s familiar problem of not being able to score a third goal proved to be an inhibiting obstacle.
The Capitals were lucky to get through the first intermission without a goal on the board. Kuemper faced an onslaught of offense during 20 minutes of downhill hockey for the Kings. Los Angeles outshot Washington 19-3 in the frame as the Capitals struggled to settle into the offensive zone without a Kings skater punching the puck back to neutral ice.
Possession evened out in the second, but it wasn’t until the 11:39 mark that someone finally broke the scoreless tie. Doing the honors was Capitals' trade deadline acquisition Sandin. After recording three assists in his first game with the team Saturday, Sandin once again contributed on the scoreboard by scooting a shoot past Kings netminder Pheonix Copley for the lead.
Los Angeles responded quickly with a goal by its own deadline acquisition in defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov one minute and 29 seconds later. Center Phillip Danault then scored on a deflection up front with 33 seconds left in the period to send the home team into the final intermission carrying a one-goal lead.
The Capitals did manage to tie things back up early in the third when a pair of penalties by the Kings set up a 5-on-3 for Washington. Sandin, managing the point of the power play for the second straight game, set up Alex Ovechkin for three open one-timers from the left circle. The first missed wide, the second was stopped by Copley and the third found its way home.
However, Kings defenseman Michael Anderson found the back of the net five minutes later and that proved to be the difference. Head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Kuemper, whose 40 saves were one short of his season high, with two minutes and five seconds left but left wing Adrian Kempe iced the game with an empty netter.
With the loss, the Capitals snapped their two-game winning streak to fall to 31-28-6 and finish their West Coast road trip 2-2. They’ll return home for a practice Wednesday before hosting the New Jersey Devils, who finished the day two points back of the Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Metropolitan Division, at Capital One Arena on Thursday.