LANDOVER, Md. -- Bernie Nicholls' five-point performance helped offset a hat trick by Greg Adams and powered the Los Angeles Kings to their first road victory in their last 11 tries.
Nicholls collected three goals and two assists and the Kings scored four third-period goals Tuesday night to rally for a 5-4 triumph over the Washington Capitals. The decision gave Los Angeles an eight-point lead over Vancouver for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Smythe Division.
Washington missed a chance to climb past the New York Rangers into fourth place in the Patrick Division. The Rangers lost to Philadelphia Tuesday.
'I seemed to get more involved tonight than I have been, and I guess it did the trick,' Nicholls said.
Nicholls capped the hat trick at 6:27, his 26th goal of the season, to give Los Angeles a 5-4 advantage. The road victory was the first for the Kings in 11 tries since January, and gave them an eight-point lead over Vancouver for the last Smythe Division playoff spot.
Nicholls registered three points in a 50-second span of the final period. He set up defenseman Grant Ledyard charging down the slot at 3:04 to put the Kings within 3-2. He then fed Dave 'Tiger' Williams for a 45-foot drive that tied the score at 3-3 at 3:23.
Nicholls broke the tie at 3:54 when he stole the puck in Washington's zone and beat goalie Bob Mason low on the glove side. But Adams completed his hat trick at 5:29 when he put in the rebound of Larry Murphy's shot from the point, tying the score 4-4. The goal was Adams' ninth of the season.
'I never was a scorer, so obviously I'm disappointed,' Adams said. 'What hurts most is that a defense-oriented team like the Washington Capitals would lose the way we did.'
Adams' first goal had come at 6:59 of the first period, giving the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Kelly Miller made it 2-1 at 11:59. before Nicholls scored at 16:02.
Adams made it 3-1 when Greg Smith's shot went in off him after he had been checked into goalie Rollie Melanson in the crease.