The Los Angeles Kings will be hosts tonight to the Washington Capitals and the NHL’s leading goal scorer Alex Ovechkin. L.A. is in the middle of a three-game slide, and Washington is coming off a highly dramatic victory over the West’s No. 2 seed Anaheim. L.A. front man Darryl Sutter alluded to the fact that his squad has lacked urgency in the final period of recent contests, and that change needs to be driven by his top six forwards. At the same time, their defense lacked in their last time out against Phoenix when they gave up four goals, the most they have given up in the previous 10 contests.
With regard to the urgency Sutter has asked for, L.A. will have captain Dustin Brown back in the lineup. He has six points in his last eight games, moderately picking up his contribution in what has been a lowly season for the New York native. Newly acquired Czech Marian Gaborik has three points in the last two games and it seems that he is warming up, which could prove to be saving grace down the stretch. Tonight, on the other side of the puck there is arguably the best pure scorer in the league in the Russian sharpshooter Ovechkin. He leads the league in goals at 46, 10 more than second place Canadian Corey Perry.
Ovechkin leads a goal scoring frenzy of a team, currently on a three-game roll, scoring 11 in that span. At the forefront to stop that rush will of course be Jonathan Quick, who despite the current skid, remains L.A.‘s top defensive force. He will surely be under fire tonight against a Washington attack that is tallying 28 shots per contest in their recent three-game winning streak. Even with strong scoring and decent shot output, the Capitals give up their fair share of chances as well. The Kings can work their offense in from that angle. In that three-game stretch, the Capitals have given up 38 shots per game, a number well above the league average.
With L.A. in the middle of a slump, they have a tough task in front of them to find a way to win against high powered Washington. They will need a big offensive night, something they are not accustomed to, and must lean on their defense to reduce the quality chances from Ovechkin and his teammates.