LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Kempe scored his first NHL goal with 11:14 to play and captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist in the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-2 victory over the NHL-leading Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Marian Gaborik also scored and Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in a big win for the Kings, who have won three of four as they fight to stay in the playoff race. Jeff Carter added an empty-net goal, and Los Angeles won back-to-back games for the first time since early February.
The Kings are in ninth place in the Western Conference, trailing St. Louis by three points.
Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie scored for the Capitals, who have lost three straight regulation games for the first time in their outstanding season.
Philipp Grubauer stopped 18 shots, but Washington’s lead over Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division has dwindled to one point with 15 games to go.
Kempe put the Kings ahead when he skated off the boards and spun his way into a clear shot at Grubauer, who was screened. Kempe, a 20-year-old Swedish rookie drafted in the first round in 2014, found the net in his 11th game for the Kings.
Vrana put the Capitals ahead on their first shot, converting a pass from Kevin Shattenkirk on a power play. The Kings evened it later in the first period on the second goal in two games by Gaborik, who has excelled lately on a line with Kopitar and newcomer Jarome Iginla.
Oshie put the Caps back ahead early in the second while following up a chance by Marcus Johansson. The American’s 26th goal matched his career high set last year in his debut season with Washington.
But Kopitar tied it again with a tip on Jeff Carter’s shot during a power play. Los Angeles has scored a man-advantage goal in five straight games, and Kopitar is finally heating up on offense after an uncharacteristically quiet season.
NOTES: Alex Ovechkin played his 17th consecutive game without an even-strength goal. … Washington F Justin Williams had an assist, giving him points in the last three games he has played against the Kings. The goal-scorer known in LA as “Mr. Game 7” won the 2014 Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Kings’ second Stanley Cup championship run. … Grubauer got the start over Braden Holtby after the German backup goalie earned a 38-save shutout in Washington’s home game against the Kings earlier this season. … Los Angeles scratched regular D Brayden McNabb and inserted Kevin Gravel.
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