LOS ANGELES–The coronation of Alex Ovechkin looked to be in place before the game began Thursday.
A large swath of fans in red lined the glass when Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals came out for warm-ups. They were set to watch the Russian megastar reach 600 career goals, and in a rare appearance at Staples Center to boot.
Then a humble depth forward who hasn't even played 600 games turned the game from red to black with a milestone of his own. In his first game back from an upper-body injury, Trevor Lewis scored in the second period for the game-winning goal in a 3-1 win. It gave Lewis a career-high tying 25 points, a number reached by Ovechkin in Ovechkin's first 25 games this season.
Lewis isn't one for personal feats, but he'll take them if it translates to wins.
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"I think the coaches gave me a good opportunity, and obviously playing with good players," Lewis said. "I'm just happy to chip in."
The Kings also got Jeff Carter's fourth goal in five games, Jonathan Quick's 25 saves and grunt work by Anze Kopitar's line to keep Ovechkin at 598 goals. For the record, Lewis recorded his 61st career goal, after 12 games off.
"He was hot this morning," Tanner Pearson said. "I think he just carried over to tonight's game, and it's right back where he left off."
A four-day layoff left the Kings out of a top-three guaranteed playoff spot in the Pacific Division when Thursday began. And at one point during the game they were out of a postseason berth altogether, but they climbed back into the last wild card spot when the standings were re-shuffled.
In between, they chased the Capitals in an up-tempo second period in which they gained a 2-1 lead on Lewis' goal. Lewis took a pass from Carter on left wing and, on his third-chance shot, batted in the puck out of midair.
How often does one get three chances on a puck?
"Not too often, but they say good things happen when you go to the net," Lewis said. "I just went there, and it was fortunate to be a goal."
It was an identical goal to the one just scored by Washington's Jakub Vrana, who deftly swatted in the puck just under the crossbar after T.J. Oshie's shot popped up near Quick's left shoulder fewer than four minutes earlier. The Capitals' possession began after Pearson's turnover led to an extended shift in the Kings' end.
Quick was on his game early with save on Nicklas Backstrom and a left pad save on John Carlson in Washington's best chance of the first period. Washington's Philipp Grubauer mostly kept pace as the Capitals decided to sit usual No.1 Braden Holtby following a poor stretch.
It was accomplishment enough for the Kings that, for the first time in eight games, they did not allow the first goal. They were aided by an errant Oshie pass that was picked off by Carter inside the blue line. Carter went to the net and got his stick on Alec Martinez's rebound before Grubauer knocked the puck across the goal line.
Lewis' return meant that Tobias Rieder was scratched for the first time since he joined the Kings on Feb.21.