The return of defenseman Mike Green was not enough to secure a win for the Washington Capitals this afternoon at Verizon Center. In the final game before their longest road trip of the season to date, the Caps let an early 1-0 lead slip away and gave up three goals in the third period in losing to the Los Angeles Kings 4-1.
The meltdown began at the 3:36 mark of the third period when Semyon Varlamov stopped Kyle Clifford on a breakaway, but left the rebound sitting on the doorstep for Andrei Loktionov to knock in the back of the net and put the Kings on top, 2-1.
The Kings practically put the game away at the 12:28 mark of the period as Michal Handzus poked the puck past Varlamov in a scramble at the front of the net and rubbed salt in the wounds 1:28 later as Jarret Stoll finished off a 2-on-1 breakaway by taking a cross-ice pass from Justin Williams and firing past a lunging Varlamov from the left circle.
The Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 66 seconds into the game with a classic Alex Ovechkin goal, as the Russian superstar carried the puck into the Los Angeles zone, cut towards the middle of the ice, and fired a wrist shot from just above the circles. With defenseman Drew Doughty being used as an unwitting screener, Bernier never saw the puck as it flew past him into the net.
The Capitals carried the play in the first period, outshooting the Kings 8-4, but could not get a second goal and were made to pay for it by the visitors.
Los Angeles equalized at the 10:41 mark of the second period after some dogged work by Handzus to keep the puck in the Kings' offensive zone. The puck found its way to Anze Kopitar, who passed it off to Wayne Simmonds, who made his way along the goal line to force a save at close range from Varlamov. But as with the winning goal, the Russian netminder couldn't hold the rebound. The puck went straight to Kopitar, who flipped the tying goal into the net over Varlamov's prostrate form.