Although the Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals have been a dominant first-period team this season, that hasn't been the case in their last two games. The Capitals look to avoid their third straight loss Saturday night when they face the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
In its first 38 games this season, Washington (24-10-6) outscored its opponents 49-19 in the opening 20 minutes. In the last two games, however, the Capitals have been outscored 5-0. After being outscored 3-0 in the opening period of Monday's 6-3 loss to Carolina, Washington fell behind 2-0 in the first period of Wednesday's 5-2 defeat at San Jose.
"It can't happen again," Alex Ovechkin said after scoring his 26th goal of the season. "When they get the lead 2-0, you have to score. This is a hard building to play in, especially in the first period, they come on hard. The first period here is hard to breath and you just have to get used to it."
Ovechkin, the two-time reigning Hart Trophy winner, will try to match a season-high six-game point streak. He has five goals and seven assists during this stretch. Ovechkin scored his first career goal against Los Angeles in a 5-4 loss in the nation's capital on Feb. 5.
The Capitals are 5-12-0 with three ties against the Kings since 1993-94.
While Washington will look to avoid losing three straight in regulation for the first time since March 1-5, the Kings (23-15-3) are trying to build off Thursday's 5-2 victory at Minnesota. Coming off a 2-1 loss at Calgary the night before, Los Angeles scored three times in the first period and snapped its season-high four-game slide. Alexander Frolov had two goals and an assist while Michal Handzus added a goal and an assist.
"That's digging in and playing with the right kind of an attitude to get back in the win column," said coach Terry Murray, whose team is 5-1-1 in its last seven home games.
Currently tied with Vancouver with the seventh-most points (49) in the West, Los Angeles is looking to make a push in the second half for its first playoff appearance since 2001-02.
"I'm happy with where we're at," Murray told the Kings' official Web site. "As far as our overall team play from game one, it's been very good at times. We've hit a few bumps along the way. Overall, we're pleased. Not satisfied, but pleased."
The team was thrilled to find out Friday that defenseman Jack Johnson, captain Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick were named to the U.S. Olympic Team. All three will be making their Olympics debut.
"This could be a once-in-a-lifetime shot and any time you get the chance to play in the Olympics and to represent your country it is a huge honor," Brown said.
Brown, who is second on the Kings with 19 assists and 28 points, has a goal and three assists as Los Angeles has won its last two games against Washington.
Quick, 5-1-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average in his last seven home starts, made 41 saves in last season's win at Washington.
Jose Theodore, who stopped 30 shots in that matchup, is 5-5-0 with a 3.31 GAA in 11 career starts versus the Kings. Michal Neuvirth has never faced Los Angeles.
Brown and Handzus each had a goal and an assist in the teams' last meeting at Staples Center -- a 5-2 Kings victory Nov. 20, 2008.