Halfway through the longest road trip in franchise history, the Los Angeles Kings have found life away from home to be quite exhilarating.
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Andrei Loktionov scored the tiebreaking goal at 3:36 of the third period, and Los Angeles beat the punchless Washington Capitals 4-1 Saturday to extend its point streak to a season-high eight games.
Because the NBA All-Star Game and the Grammy Awards have taken over Staples Center, the Kings have been exiled to the road for a three-week stretch.
Instead of grousing about it, they’ve been flourishing.
At the midpoint of a trip that has already taken them from Minnesota to Canada and then the East Coast, the Kings are 3-0-2.
After a slow start in this one — Alex Ovechkin scored for the Capitals on the first shot of the game — Los Angeles dominated.
”They get another goal in that first period then the crowd’s bumping. It’s like having an extra player on the ice,” said Wayne Simmonds, who had two assists. ”For us to endure in this game early and to come out late like that, it gives a lot of confidence.”
Loktionov put Los Angeles up 2-1 by scoring off the rebound of a shot by Kyle Clifford. Michal Handzus gave the Kings a two-goal cushion with 7:32 remaining, and Jarret Stoll applied the clincher less than 1 1/2 minutes later.
”It’s a big two points for us,” coach Terry Murray said. ”To come into this building against a great hockey club and play a pretty solid defensive game, first of all, and then to be able to score some goals, that’s a good thing.”
Jonathan Bernier had 22 saves for the Kings, whose 6-0-2 run is their longest since a nine-game streak from Jan. 21-Feb. 6, 2010.
Washington was coming off a 2-0 home loss to San Jose on Tuesday. The Capitals have scored two goals or fewer in nine of 13 games.
”It’s like we’re waiting for something to happen,” right wing Mike Knuble said. ”It’s time to throw the switch toward the playoffs. We’re entering the toughest part of the season. It’s going to be a real indicator if we’re a serious contender or not, quite honestly.”
Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves for the Capitals, who play their next five games on the road — beginning with a trip to the West Coast.
”We outworked them in the first, got outworked in the second and all we had to do was outwork them in the third to start off a tough road trip,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. ”(The Capitals) looked like they were already thinking about what’s going on in the sun.”
It was the only meeting of the season between the teams. The Kings have won four straight over Washington since 2007.
The game started incredibly well for the Capitals, who went up 1-0 when Ovechkin fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that soared past Bernier with 66 seconds elapsed. It was the 21st goal for Ovechkin, who had been held without a point in eight of 12 games.
”We got a good start. We took the lead,” Ovechkin said. ”They kept pushing and pushing. They had the momentum and then the game.”
Los Angeles tied it at 10:41 of the second period when Anze Kopitar put in the rebound of a shot by Simmonds. Kopitar had gone 10 games without a goal.
”My shoulder’s gotten a little rusty because I haven’t had my arms in the air for a while,” Kopitar said. ”I’m ready to get the rust off it and celebrate a little more.”
The third period was dominated by the Kings. It was only the second time in 15 games since Jan. 6 that Los Angeles was involved in a game decided by more than two goals.
”To accomplish what we did today was huge,” Kopitar said. ”Now we’ve got to build on it.”
NOTES: The crowd of 18,398 was the Capitals’ 91st consecutive sellout at home. … Kopitar played in his 310th consecutive game, 14 short of the team record held by Marcel Dionne. … Washington D Mike Green, who was hit in the head with a puck on Sunday against Pittsburgh, returned after a one-game absence.