Kings: Kyle Clifford, Anze Kopitar score for 2-1 lead

January, 9, 2012
1/09/12
8:39
PM PT
After the 1st period:

Kings 2, Washington Capitals 1

The good: The Kings outscored LSU tonight. Who would have thought? Leave it to the fourth line to get the Kings on the board. Trent Hunter started the scoring play with a quick turnaround shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. He apparently surprised Washington goalie Tomas Vokoun because he left a juicy rebound in front of the net. Kyle Clifford swooped in, dragged the puck to his backhand and slid it between Vokoun’s pads at the 8:19 mark to tie the score, 1-1, on their 10th shot on goal of the game. Just what the Kings needed after the Capitals scored on their first shot of the game. After killing their 35th consecutive penalty with about 90 seconds remaining in the period, Anze Kopitar poked the puck off the stick of Washington center Brooks Laich as he was preparing to clear the defensive zone and it slid to longtime linemate Dustin Brown in the slot. Brown slid a nice little pass to Kopitar near the left post and he redirected it past Vokoun for a 2-1 lead with 33 seconds left in the period. The Kings have now scored 18 first-period goals this season, still a distant last in the NHL but definitely a good start on this night.

The bad: As was mentioned, the Capitals scored on their first shot 1:34 into the game. Kopitar’s shot was deflected in front of the Washington net and Mike Knuble got the puck ahead to forward Marcus Johansson who beat Kings back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier with a nice wrist shot. Bernier bounced back to make a nice save on Troy Brouwer's one-time with 13 minutes left in the opening period and had six saves in all. The Kings missed a couple other good scoring chances, none better than Brown’s failed breakaway attempt with about 3 minutes left. He tried one too many jukes with the puck before it slid off his stick as he was preparing to shoot.

The in between: The Capitals are without leading scorer Nicklas Backstrom, who returned to Washington, apparently still feeling the effects of an elbow to the head from Calgary left wing Rene Bourque midway through the third period of 3-1 victory Tuesday in Washington. Before sitting out Saturday night’s 5-2 loss in San Jose, Backstrom had 15 points in the previous 12 games. Overall, he has 13 goals and a team-leading 29 assists, working as the primary set-up man for two-time league MVP Alex Ovechkin (17 goals, 16 assists). The Capitals are also without injured defenseman Mike Green, a two-time Norris Trophy nominee.

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