It was pay-back time Wednesday night for the Kings, whose problems with the Washington Capitals this season had been almost laughable.
By ending the Capitals' six-game winning streak with a 4-3 victory before a crowd of 9,620 at the Forum, the Kings avoided being swept this season by the Capitals, who had given them more trouble than any other team in the National Hockey League.
Coach Robbie Ftorek gave an assist to Craig Laughlin, acquired by the Kings in a trade with the Capitals Feb. 9.
"We had a spy in here tonight, and he sure helped us out a lot," Ftorek said of Laughlin. "Craig gave us a lot of scoops about different situations that proved beneficial to us."
Luc Robitaille and Mike Allison each scored two goals for the Kings, whose previous two misadventures against the Capitals this season had resulted in a 10-3 loss at Landover, Md., Dec. 6 and an 8-3 loss Jan. 13 at the Forum.
"When you get embarrassed like we did, it's not a very comfortable feeling in your stomach," goaltender Rollie Melanson said. "I think mentally the guys knew what we had to do tonight."
Melanson, who gave up the 10 goals in the December loss, stopped 31 shots this time in gaining his third straight win.
"We took care of the slot a lot better than when we were in Washington," Melanson said. "In Washington, it was like a freeway out there--guys just skating through."
Also, the Kings, who had been lit up for eight power-play goals in their two previous meetings with the Capitals, killed all five penalties this time.
The third time held no charm for the Capitals, who were unable to overcome a 4-1 second-period deficit.
It was the first game of a tough five-game stretch for the Kings, who, in the next 10 days, have road games against the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers sandwiched between Saturday night home games against the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens.
The Capitals came in hot. They hadn't lost since before the All-Star break two weeks ago and, in their previous two games, goaltender Clint Malarchuk shut out the Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota North Stars.
Malarchuk, though, was on the bench by the end of this one.
His shutout streak ended at 130 minutes 6 seconds when the Kings scored at 2:36 of the first period with Washington's Dale Hunter in the penalty box for cross-checking Dave Taylor.
Allison scored the power-play goal, knocking in a pass from Jim Fox on a 2-on-1 breakaway after Fox had taken a lead pass from Laughlin, creating the advantage.
Hunter pulled the Capitals even with 2:35 left in the period, scoring on a 25-foot shot from the left circle.
In the second period, though, the Kings broke the game open.
Robitaille scored his first goal after picking up a loose puck at the Kings' blue line and sending it across the ice to Bob Carpenter. Carpenter carried the puck down the left side beyond the goal line before sending it back to a charging Robitaille, who banged it in from in front of the net.
Robitaille scored again with 10:02 left in the period, skating through the slot and deflecting a shot by Steve Duchesne while all but carrying defenseman Garry Galley on his back.
Just 78 seconds later, Allison took a pass beyond the defense from Larry Playfair, skated in alone and beat Malarchuk to the stick side.
Malarchuk was through for the night less than two minutes later. Coach Bryan Murray pulled him in favor of Pete Peeters, whose illness last week forced him out of a game against the New Jersey Devils.
Grant Ledyard cut the Capitals' deficit to 4-2 with 1:56 left in the period. The former King, acquired in the Feb. 9 trade that brought Laughlin to the Kings, scored on a 50-foot shot from the left point.
Lou Franceschetti beat Melanson with 4:41 left.
Washington Coach Bryan Murray said he lifted goaltender Clint Malarchuk in an effort to spark the Capitals. "I thought that we weren't supporting him at all," Murray said. "He's been playing great for us the last few games. I thought that (pulling him) would maybe send a message to the guys and change the tempo." . . . Jimmy Carson, who is on pace to become only the second U.S.-born player to score 50 goals in a season, would be the third King to accomplish the feat, joining Marcel Dionne, who did it six times, and Charlie Simmer, who did it twice.
Ron Duguay, one of the few remaining players in the National Hockey League who does not wear a helmet, is the Kings' first helmetless player since Ken Houston retired in 1984. Duguay, obtained in the trade Monday that sent Mark Hardy to the New York Rangers, did not dress for Wednesday night's game. . . . Jay Wells missed his seventh straight game with a groin injury. . . . Bob Bourne sat out with a fever.