The stadium entertainment crew at Capital One Arena saw fit to play a pregame video mash-up of the film “La La Land” with the Kings making a rare visit.
The no-so subtle jab made sense, given it was a virtual city of stars with the big names on display: Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals against Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick.
Then there was a rewrite and a call for a lesser-known name to emerge, and out came 34-year-old journeyman Jussi Jokinen, who scored the winning goal for the Kings in a 5-2 victory on his daughter Sandra’s sixth birthday.
“She hasn’t seen her dad score a goal in a long time, so I just wanted to get one on her birthday,” Jokinen said. “It feels good.”
In front of a crowd of 18,506, Jokinen sneaked behind the defense and slipped a backhand past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby to give the Kings their second goal in nine seconds midway in the second quarter and a lead they would never lose. It was Jokinen’s first goal since March, when he was with the Florida Panthers before he was bought out and traded to the Kings.
Marian Gaborik, 35, also scored his first goal since March, on a breakaway bounce in the first period, and later added an empty-net goal. Rookie defenseman Kurtis MacDermid recorded the first multi-point game of his career with two assists, and Trevor Lewis also had two assists.
Ovechkin and Backstrom? They were each scoreless with a minus-2 rating, guarded largely by Doughty and Kopitar. Doughty said he came out fine from a knee-on-knee collision with Tom Wilson.
“I’ve never been so tired in my whole entire life,” Doughty said. “I felt like I spent the entire game in my own zone playing against that Ovechkin line. But it was a great battle. All four lines, all six D, Quickie played great. It was just a full team effort.”
Quick denied Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bid for a hat trick and stretched out to stop a Christian Djoos shot in the third period. Doughty knelt down and hugged Quick after the latter.
“I can’t even say what I said to him,” Doughty said. “I think I swore a couple times.”
The Capitals swear they see Jokinen in their sleep. He has eight goals and seven assists in 22 games at Washington, most during his 10 years playing in the Eastern Conference.
“I was actually thinking about that before tonight’s game,” Jokinen said. “It’s funny sometimes you end up getting more points against [certain] teams. … I’ve been able to get lots of goals, lots of points against this team over my career.”
For the third time since training camp, Doughty this week left open the possibility that he wouldn’t re-sign with the Kings when his contract expires after next season. General manager Rob Blake said he’s not concerned about Doughty’s future becoming a distraction.
“Not at all,” Blake said. “I’m not worried about that. He’s going to learn that he’s going to be asked those questions, but he’s a long way from being unrestricted. It’s not like he’s unrestricted here in a month.”
The Kings are eligible to re-sign Doughty on July 1 and are not permitted to negotiate an extension before then. Doughty has been unfiltered about his situation and told The Athletic that he would consult with fellow Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators to estimate the financial numbers. Karlsson’s contract also expires after the 2018-19 season.
Doughty said in September that he wants to remain a King and reiterated that sentiment last month. But he has continually couched his stance with the possibility he could sign elsewhere.
KINGS AT ST. LOUIS BLUES
When: Friday, 5 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790.