Capitals lose third straight, 2-1 to the Kings

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 3, 2010

LOS ANGELES -- For the second time in two games on this trip, the Washington Capitals were awarded a five-on-three power play, and with it, the chance to change the course of the contest.

But, once again, Alex Ovechkin and Co. did not capitalize, and on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center, the failure made all the difference in a 2-1 loss to goalie Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings.

The Capitals, who did not have first-line center Nicklas Backstrom for the final 39 minutes because of a migraine headache, have suffered three straight regulation setbacks, their longest such streak since March.

"That's four in a row," an exasperated Coach Bruce Boudreau said referring to his team's streak of futility on the five-on-threes. "So obviously I'm going to have to change up the people who are out there. Because some of us aren't listening."

With the Kings clinging to a one-goal lead with about seven minutes remaining, Jack Johnson and Sean O'Donnell both were in the penalty box, giving the Capitals 53 seconds of five-on-three time. But the Ovechkin-led unit squandered much of it passing the puck around the perimeter, waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself.

Instead of pulling even, the Capitals mustered only one shot on Quick, who was occasionally spectacular in making 26 stops. In Wednesday's 5-2 loss in San Jose, Washington failed to score on a 49-second two-man advantage.

"We got one shot and almost scored," Boudreau said. "So I would think the answer would be, 'Let's shoot some more.' "

Mike Green, who tallied Washington's only goal, added: "That was the difference tonight. We score there, we tie it up and we go on and have momentum after that and [might] score another one after that."

Green's goal came on the power play early in the second period and tied the game at 1. Michal Handzus's winner, though, also came with the Capitals up a man.

In the opening minutes of the third period, Brad Richardson went behind the net in pursuit of the puck. Ovechkin went to hit Richardson, but did not get all of him, allowing Richardson to zip a centering pass to a wide-open Handzus in front of the net. Handzus lured Michal Neuvirth (17 saves) to the ice, then patiently fired the puck over the sprawled goalie at 2 minutes 50 seconds.

"It looked way too easy," Boudreau said. "It looked like Alex let up on the hit. It looked like everyone else thought there was a whistle or gave up on that play. But that should never happen."

Washington has yielded four short-handed goals this season. Only four teams have allowed more.

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