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Quick guides Kings past Caps in shootout

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- After three attempts to present their head coach with a career milestone, the Los Angeles Kings accomplished the feat Thursday by playing to their strengths: solid defense and goaltending.

Winger Marian Gaborik scored the game-winning shootout goal and goaltender Jonathan Quick made 21 saves through overtime and another two in the shootout as the Kings defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 Thursday.

Coach Darryl Sutter earned his 500th regular-season victory with the win, the last 66 coming with the Kings.

"The milestone means a lot," Sutter said. "I've been around a long timem but it's odd that it came via a shootout. I can't remember my first victory."

Los Angeles (39-25-6) snapped a three-game losing streak and maintained its five-point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes for third place in the Pacific Division.

While the possibility of moving up in the Pacific Division is virtually impossible, the Kings know they must close the season strong to prepare for a first-round matchup against either the Anaheim Ducks or San Jose Sharks.

Thursday's game marked a milestone for Quick as well. He earned his 171st victory, tying the franchise mark set by Rogie Vachon. Quick extended his shootout record to 5-2 this season.

The Kings blew a third-period lead for the second consecutive game as Washington winger Joel Ward tied the game 1-1 at 12:24. Ward outfought Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and converted a wrist shot from 15 feet out. Ward's 22nd goal of the season was assisted by winger Evgeny Kuznetsov and center Nicklas Backstrom.

"I was just trying to get some separation from the defenseman in front," Ward said. "I knew Kuznetsov had the puck down low. He threw one out front. At first I couldn't see it. I tried to take a whack at it, then it hit my skate. I just kind of scooped it in."

Though the Capitals (33-27-11) remain out of a playoff spot, their play this week heightened their hopes of cracking the Eastern Conference's top eight. They rallied for the 11th time this season to earn at least a point when trailing after two periods (7-21-4).

Washington had a three-game winning streak snapped, but it climbed within one point of the final playoff spot with the overtime loss. Goaltender Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves.

"Quick played great, the goalie maybe stole it for them, but they play a hard-nosed, physical game, and they did (tonight), and I'm proud of the guys the way they stood up to it," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "You know the second half of the game, I thought we kind of took it to them."

The Kings opened the scoring on center Anze Kopitar's 22nd goal of the season at 14:09 of the first period. Winger Justin Williams threw a stretch pass that was retrieved by Gaborik in the left offensive-zone corner. Gaborik's short pass was taken by Kopitar, who fired a wrist shot from 13 feet.

Washington had a golden opportunity to win the game in overtime when Los Angeles defenseman Robyn Regehr was called for hooking 53 seconds in. The Capitals could not covert on the power play, as winger Troy Brouwer was stopped at point-blank range twice by Quick.

The Capitals continued to dominate overtime, but Quick was at his best in the extra session to move the game into the shootout.

"Our penalty killing did an unbelievable job throughout the whole game, especially in overtime to play that four-on-three. It was huge," Gaborik said. "We found a way to win, and we worked very hard. ... After the second period, we talked about that we just have to hold off and play our game. Unfortunately they tied it up, but we stayed with it and we got a win."

Los Angeles' trademark defense showed up after a one-game absence against the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday. The Kings held the Capitals off the board through 30 minutes and limited them to just eight shots on goal. Brouwer had the Capitals' best chance in the middle frame when he got in alone with less than two minutes remaining, but Quick was able to steer his tipped shot away.

NOTES: Washington scratched D John Erskine, C Brooks Laich and C Connor Carrick. ... Capitals RW Troy Brouwer played in his 200th game for the franchise. ... Washington recalled C Chris Brown and re-assigned C Casey Wellman to AHL Hersey. ... Los Angeles did not dress D Matt Greene and RW Jordan Nolan. ... RW Dustin Brown, the Kings' captain, returned to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury. ... The two teams will meet again Tuesday in Washington to conclude their season series.

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