After easily disposing of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday for their fourth consecutive win, the Washington Capitals continue the West Coast portion of their road trip with a Wednesday game against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Capitals, who opened the trip with a 5-2 victory at Detroit on Saturday, fell behind 1-0 at San Jose before responding with five consecutive goals in a 5-2 win.
Defenseman John Carlson, making a pretty strong early case for the Norris Trophy, had his sixth three-point game of the season with two primary assists and what proved to be the game-winning tally. All three goals came during the span of 3:01 in the first period as the Capitals improved to an NHL-best 12-2-1 on the road.
Carlson became just the fifth defenseman in NHL history to hit the 40-point mark (nine goals, 31 assists) in 29 or fewer games, joining Bobby Orr, who did it six times, Denis Potvin (twice), Paul Coffey and Al MacInnis, who was the last to do it, for the Calgary Flames in 1990-91.
“Our team is playing well,” Carlson said. “That’s what I care about. It nice to see the puck go in always. There’s no doubt about that, but whoever is scoring is good for me.”
When asked about joining Orr, Potvin, Coffey and MacInnis in the 40/29 club, Carlson replied: “I think there’s a lot of luck involved. A lot of great players I’m playing with that make me look pretty good right now. I think we’ve had a really good start to the season, and that’s all tied into that.”
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby said, “We know what we get from John every night, so it’s not a big surprise to us. He’s a very talented player.”
Jakob Vrana and Garnet Hathaway each had two goals, and Holtby finished with 23 saves for the Capitals, who are tied with the Boston Bruins for the most points in the NHL (45) and also the most wins (20).
Washington now heads to Southern California to wrap up its road trip with games against the Kings on Wednesday and the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Los Angeles is in last place in the Pacific Division and comes in off a 4-2 loss at Anaheim on Monday, its fourth defeat in six games. However, the Kings have played well at the Staples Center, going 9-5-1, including November wins over the Pacific Division-leading Edmonton Oilers (5-1), the 2018 Stanley Cup finalist Vegas Golden Knights (4-3) as well as the New York Islanders (4-1), who are in second place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Capitals.
“When everybody’s on the same page, it’s amazing how successful it can be,” Los Angeles left winger Kyle Clifford said. “One-on-one battles, getting pucks first, second-man support; it’s kind of a five-man unit out there.”
The loss at Anaheim dropped the Kings to 0-8-1 in their past nine on the road. After Wednesday, Los Angeles plays eight of its next nine away from home.
“It seems to me that we don’t bring the same energy on the road as we do at home,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “We take a lot of jabs, we get knocked down, we slowly pick ourselves up off the mat, and then it’s too late. Can’t play that way. So, we’ve got some things we need to address.”
–Field Level Media