WASHINGTON — Plenty of thoughts raced through Jussi Jokinen's mind before taking the ice, from his daughter's birthday to his success on the road against the Capitals.
Not much went through his mind when he scored the Los Angeles Kings' second goal in a span of nine seconds, the key stretch in a 5-2 victory at Washington on Thursday night. The quick-strike, second-period goals by Jonny Brodzinski and Jokinen helped the Kings win their third in a row.
"It kind of changed the whole hockey game," Jokinen said. "It gave a big lift to our hockey team, and we didn't have to chase the game anymore, and they had to chase the game."
Jokinen's goal was his first in 21 games this season after starting with the Edmonton Oilers before a trade to Los Angeles on Nov. 14. In the midst of a challenging year that included being bought out by the Florida Panthers in June, the 34-year-old was beaming at being able to celebrate daughter Sandra's sixth birthday with his first goal since March 17.
"She hasn't seen her dad score a goal in a long time," said Jokinen, who has eight goals and seven assists in 22 games at Washington. "It was fun to get one on her birthday. It feels good."
The Kings are finally back to feeling good after losing seven of eight from Nov. 9-24. This one wasn't easy, as they had to rally and withstand two goals from Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov, but the Kings got 27 saves from Jonathan Quick and two goals from Marian Gaborik to get the job done.
"They're so hard to play against," said
Washington's win streak ended at three as a handful of miscues proved costly. Goaltender Braden Holtby made a miscommunication that led to Brodzinski's goal, and rookie
"We did a lot of good things," said Holtby, who allowed three goals on 25 shots. "We did some bad things, too. We got a lucky on a few plays, too. ... Just some areas, we've got to get on the same page with more attention to detail, myself included, and go from there."
The Kings were plenty happy about winning a fun, back-and-forth game against the Capitals. But no one wanted to get ahead of themselves about stringing together a few wins.
"It's a process," coach John Stevens said. "We're trying to get our team to a point where we continue to build our team game. It's frustrating when you lose, your energy kind of drops a little bit. But the group's been terrific, I think the leadership group's been terrific and we still put ourselves in a position where we want to be and continue to get better."
NOTES: Tyler Toffoli had an empty netter with 4 seconds left. ... Quick improved to 8-2-0 in his career against Washington. ... Los Angeles
Kings: Continue their four-game trip Friday night at the St. Louis Blues.
Capitals: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night in the second part of a five-game home stand.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press