The Washington Capitals will try to patch together another winning lineup when they host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday evening.
The Capitals were missing several key players on Friday at the Winnipeg Jets, but still managed a 5-2 victory to give them points in six of the past seven games (4-1-2).
Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom, who made his season debut in a 5-4 overtime loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, was placed in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol before the game against the Jets.
Backstrom joined fellow forwards Evgeny Kuznetsov and Garnet Hathaway on the list.
The good news for Washington is forwards Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk will be available. They came off the COVID-19 list in time to play against the Blackhawks, but couldn’t clear Canadian restrictions in order to play in Winnipeg.
Also, rugged winger Tom Wilson is close to returning from a three-game absence due to an upper-body injury.
“It’s just kind of the new norm these days,” the Capitals’ Conor Sheary said. “The COVID situations, injuries, guys have been in and out, and lineups don’t stay the same for two games in a row, it seems.”
The Kings haven’t dodged COVID-19 issues either.
They had to put their best defenseman, Drew Doughty, into protocol on Thursday, and goalie Cal Petersen joined the list on Saturday.
The Kings played at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night and lost 5-1 after giving up two goals in the first 1:36 of the game.
“You’re lying if you say it doesn’t have an effect on you,” said Blake Lizotte, who scored the lone goal for the Kings. “It’s an uphill battle when you’re down 2-0. It kind of seems like the bounces don’t go your way when you’re down that quick, whether that’s the way you’re mentally approaching it, or actually true, I don’t know, but it’s a tough way to start the game for sure.”
Lizotte said the Kings need to get off to a better start against the Capitals by moving the puck more quickly in all three zones.
“It’s important for us going forward just to move pucks quicker, especially out of the D-zone, and not take that extra half-second,” Lizotte said. “You wait that half-second, it stays in your end.”
Kings coach Todd McLellan was also asked how his team can be better against the Capitals.
“Our start. Minute two, minute three, minute four,” he said. “We just have to be better all over, every minute.”
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick will likely start back-to-back nights with Petersen in protocol. His backup on Saturday was Jacob Ingham, who was called up earlier in the day from the Swamp Rabbits of the ECHL.
Quick will have to deal with a red-hot Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals.
The 36-year-old left wing has a goal in each of the past two games and three goals and seven assists in a seven-game point streak.
He has 47 points through 30 games, second-most in that span behind Dennis Maruk, who produced 48 points in the first 30 games of the 1981-82 season.
–Field Level Media
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