Adrian Kempe’s third-period goal lifts Kings to comeback win over Capitals

Kings forward Adrian Kempe scores past Washington Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek.
Kings forward Adrian Kempe scores past Washington Capitals goalie Vitek Vanecek in the third period of the Kings’ 3-2 win Sunday.
(Luis M. Alvarez / Associated Press)

Adrian Kempe scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 win over the undermanned Washington Capitals on Sunday night.

Washington was missing forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Michael Sgarbossa, all on the COVID-19 list. Oshie was placed on the list earlier Sunday, and Sgarbossa was a late scratch.

Garret Sparks, recalled from the minors before the game, stopped 33 shots for his first NHL win since March 20, 2019.


NHL games involving travel between teams based in the U.S. and Canada will be postponed, including the Kings vs. Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Dec. 19, 2021

In January 2019, Sparks suffered a concussion in practice with the Toronto Maple Leafs and has struggled since.

“It’s been a long road back here,” Sparks said. “I’ve been through a ton. I got to step into a situation where they needed me.”

Kings coach Todd McLellan was thrilled with Sparks’ performance.

“He’s had some real highs and some real lows,” McLellan said. “For the group to play hard and come back with him, I think for him, and he in turn, playing as well as he did tonight, it’s a chapter in a book.”

Blake Lizotte scored short-handed and Christian Wolanin also had a goal for the Kings, who trailed by two late in the second period.

Washington coach Peter Laviolette said he thought the short-handed goal was vital.

“I don’t know if it turned the tide, but it certainly at the end of a period like that, it puts them on the board, it gets them some energy and some life and a possibility,” he said. “We just let our guard down, so we needed to do better than that.“

Connor McMichael and Justin Schultz each had a goal for Washington.

Kempe’s 12th goal of the season, which fluttered off his stick in front of the net, beat Vitek Vanecek, who made 21 saves.


The Capitals had won their last five games against the Kings.

Jonathan Quick and the Kings surrendered two goals in the opening two minutes en route to a 5-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

Dec. 18, 2021

Washington took the lead at 7:58 of the first on McMichael’s fourth goal, which was assisted by Joe Snively, a native of nearby Virginia who was making his NHL debut.

Schultz’s second goal of the season, his first since opening night, came a second after a four-minute power play expired to give Washington a 2-0 advantage at 13:47 of the second.

Lizotte’s third goal cut Washington’s lead to 2-1 at 17:04 of the second.

Wolanin’s first NHL goal since March 14, 2019, at 2:50 of the third tied it.