Kings hope to end 5-game road trip on a high note

Even with their most lopsided loss of the young season fresh in their minds, the Kings could come away with an impressive eight points from their current five-game road trip with a win over the Capitals on Saturday in Washington.

The Kings fell 6-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, a game in which they outshot Pittsburgh in the first period but still trailed by three goals at intermission. Defenseman Brandt Clarke picked up his first career NHL point, an assist on the Kings’ solitary goal, providing a rare bright spot on a night when Pittsburgh’s veterans – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and former King Jeff Carter – each registered a point.

The Kings’ lineup might also be skewing a bit more toward experience, at least in goal, after a weak performance from Cal Petersen. Petersen is 2-1-0 on the season, but his goals-against-average ballooned to nearly 5.00 after he was chased in Pittsburgh trailing 3-0. The more seasoned Jonathan Quick finished the game and should be considered all but a lock to start in Washington.

“There’s no secret, we’ve got to get (Petersen) going. He’s got to play like he can play. He’s an NHL goaltender,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “He has to be better. I can’t stand here and (lie to) you guys, it is what it is, but there’s others that have to be better as well.”

Buefore their struggles in Pittsburgh, the Kings had won three consecutive games, each decided by a goal. Coming away with eight out of 10 points from a trip that tested their mettle as well their circadian rhythms – miles in the air, tight scheduling, late starts for TV and time-zone changes are often part of life in the NHL – would be an immense achievement.

Impeding the Kings’ on their path to a successful swing will be the Caps, led by winger Alex Ovechkin, whose five points pace the club. That’s nothing new for Ovechkin, who holds the all-time record for career power-play goals and remains in hot pursuit of Wayne Gretzky’s lofty mark for goals. While Ovechkin still needs 112 tallies to catch Gretzky’s total of 894, the Russian sniper will likely score the 19 goals he needs to surpass Gordie Howe for second in league history this season.

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The Capitals are without injured center Nicklas Backstrom, a longtime cohort of Ovechkin’s on the power play, but will get another potent pivot, Evgeny Kuznetsov, back from suspension. Kuznetsov missed Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Senators in Ottawa after being banned for a game for swinging his stick at Vancouver’s Kyle Burroughs.

Washington reconfigured its roster a bit over the summer, notably adding Stanley Cup-winning goalie Darcy Kuemper from Colorado, as well as former Chicago forward Dylan Strome and one-time Ottawa winger Connor Brown.

Kings at Washington

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Capital One Arena

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/IHeartRadio

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