NHL on NBC: Kings visit Capitals, go for six in a row

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NBC’s coverage of the NHL continues on Sunday afternoon when the New York Rangers pay a visit to the Detroit Red Wings. You can watch all of the action on NBC starting at 12:00 p.m. ET or on our live stream here.

It’s another Star Sunday on NBC when the NHL’s best team, the Washington Capitals, plays host to the NHL’s hottest team, the Los Angeles Kings.

Sunday’s broadcast will highlight Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Kings forward Jeff Carter, two of the NHL’s top goal scorers.

As for the game itself, it’s the second game in less than 24 hours for each team after they were both winners on Saturday afternoon and is a classic matchup of high-scoring offense going against shut down defense.

After shutting out the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon — thanks to Peter Budaj‘s league-leading seventh shutout of the season — the Kings have now won five games in a row and climbing the Western Conference standings, entering the day sitting in the top wild card spot. It was a typical Kings game in that they completely shut down an opposing offense, playing the type of smothering defense that has made them a two-time Stanley Cup winner since 2011-12. It’s not always the prettiest hockey — they allowed the Flyers to get just 17 shots on goal on Saturday — but it works for them.

While the Kings have been on a bit of a roll over the past two weeks, the Capitals have been dominating the league for the better part of the past two months.

Since Dec. 1 the Capitals have put together a 22-5-4 record (that would be a 127-point pace over 82 games) to move back into the driver’s seat for the Presidents’ Trophy. Entering play on Sunday they have a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the NHL and are not that far off the pace they were on at this point a year ago when they ended up finishing the season with the league’s best record.

They were 3-2 winners in Montreal on Saturday.

The formula for the Capitals this season is very much the same. A Vezina Trophy caliber performance from Braden Holtby, whose numbers are actually better than they were a year ago when he won the award, and a balanced scoring attack that features some of the NHL’s most talented forwards combining to formone of the league’s highest scoring teams. While Ovechkin gets most of the headlines in Washington, Nicklas Backstrom is quietly putting together another magnificent season, leading the team with 52 points in 52 games.