(SportsNetwork.com) - The struggling Los Angeles Kings hope a meeting with the Washington Capitals can help them get on the right track, as the defending Stanley Cup champions visit D.C. for Tuesday's battle at Verizon Center.
Coming off their second Cup title in three seasons, the Kings have rarely displayed championship form in 2014-15. With only three wins in its last 13 games and a 21-16-12 record on the season, Los Angeles finds itself three points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings began a five-game road trip Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. The setback dropped the reigning champs to 5-10-6 on the road this season, but L.A. is aiming for a bounce back effort in Washington, where it hasn't lost since the 2006-07 season.
Los Angeles has won the last seven meetings in this series since Washington notched a 4-3 overtime win over the Kings on Feb. 8, 2007. The Capitals have lost three straight and six of its past seven home tests versus L.A. and Washington hasn't earned a home regulation victory against the Kings since April 4, 1998.
In addition to their recent mastery of the Capitals, the Kings also could get a confidence boost after visiting the White House to celebrate its most recent Cup title. L.A. was honored by President Barack Obama on Monday at a ceremony held in the East Room and head coach Darryl Sutter presented Obama with a silver hockey stick.
The Kings halted a four-game slide last Wednesday with a 4-3 home win over Chicago in a rematch of last season's Western Conference finals. However, L.A., which hasn't won consecutive games since beating St. Louis and Arizona on Dec. 18 and 20, followed up that victory with the loss in Boston.
Brad Marchand scored two goals and Chris Kelly notched the game-winner with 5:27 left in the third period to lift the Bruins past the Kings. Jordan Nolan scored the only goal for L.A. and Jonathan Quick stopped 30-of-32 shots in the loss.
"They just scored more goals than us," Nolan said. "We had a few opportunities that we should've buried and that was the difference in the game."
It was the seventh loss in the past eight road games for the Kings, who will continue this swing on Thursday with a tilt against the Florida Panthers.
Quick will try to stay perfect for his career against the Caps tonight. L.A.'s franchise netminder is 4-0 with a 2.41 goals against average when facing Washington.
The Caps also are hoping to get out of a funk tonight after losing for the sixth time in seven games when they dropped Sunday's 4-3 decision against the St. Louis Blues. It was the second straight setback for Washington, which still holds an eight-point lead over Florida for the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Washington never held a lead in Sunday's tilt, falling in regulation to the visiting Blues. Alex Steen had two goals and an assist to help St. Louis hold off the Caps.
Alex Ovechkin continued his excellent play of late, albeit in a losing effort, scoring twice and adding a helper. Ovechkin, who was named the NHL's First Star for January, has posted four two-goal efforts over his last seven outings and is tied with Rick Nash of the New York Rangers for the NHL lead in goals with 31.
Ovechkin's 30th goal of the season came in the first period. It marked the 10th time in 10 seasons since joining the league that Ovechkin has reached that mark. He is the fifth player in NHL history to hit the 30-goal mark in 10 straight seasons, joining Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner.
Karl Alzner also scored for the Capitals on Sunday, while backup netminder Justin Peters took the loss despite coming up with 36 saves.
Washington is 13-6-5 as the host this season and expects to go with Braden Holtby in net tonight. It would mark Holtby's first career appearance against the Kings.