Wed, Feb 13, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Red-hot Kuznetsov leads Caps to win

AP, WASHINGTON

Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals, front left, scores against the Los Angeles Kings in their NHL game in Washington on Monday.

Photo: AP

Evgeny Kuznetsov is scoring, the Washington Capitals are winning and it feels like the playoffs in February.

Kuznetsov on Monday continued his hot streak with two goals and two assists, leading the Washington Capitals to a 6-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

The leading scorer in last year’s playoffs has six goals and six assists in six games since the All-Star break, and the defending Stanley Cup champions finished 4-1-1 on their longest homestand of the season.

Kuznetsov had just 10 points in his previous 18 games before getting on this roll.

“Even if things not going well, you have to work and not just hard work, you have to smart work and you just have to wait for your chance,” Kuznetsov said. “When chances come up, you just have to execute.”

Kuznetsov is not the only one executing right now. Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 38th goal and had two assists, while Brett Connolly, Christian Djoos and Jakub Vrana also scored for the Capitals, who had their lines from the Stanley Cup Final put back together and produced all over the lineup.

“We played together before, so we have some chemistry,” said Vrana, who scored his 17th goal. “It doesn’t really matter who you play with. There is always some chemistry between each other here.”

The Capitals got the win and overcame a spate of three hooking penalties in 7 minutes,19 seconds in the first period. They are tied for first in the league with 201 minor penalties — a problem that they hope to fix as they go on the road for the next six.

Players were happy leaving on a jet plane because of an offensive outburst and 29 saves from backup goaltender Pheonix Copley, who was making his second start in three games.

It was a rougher night for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who allowed six goals on 31 shots behind some uneven defense.

“That team scores a lot of goals and they have a deadly power play,” said Kings forward Austin Wagner, who scored twice. “We’ve got to try to stay off it next game, but we have to focus on the next game and take it into the next one.”

Tyler Toffoli and Oscar Fantenberg also scored for Los Angeles, who went 3-2-1 on their six-game trip and remain eight points out of the final playoff spot in an unusually tight Western Conference race with many teams to pass.

“The challenging part probably isn’t the points, it’s the leapfrogging teams, because everyone’s playing each other,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “It’s going to come down to a math problem. If we perform well, it still might just come down to a math problem.”

Also on Monday, it was:

‧ Penguins 4, Flyers 1

‧ Sharks 7, Canucks 2

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