Playing their second game in as many afternoons, the Detroit Red Wings were outplayed by the Los Angeles Kings for most of the contest. They trailed the defending Stanley Cup Champions in most of the important statistics. Oh, and they won the game anyway.
Jonathan Ericsson scored a stunning late goal after the Kings had also knotted up the game in the final minute, and Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard turned in his finest performance of 2013 as the Red Wings emerged with an improbable 3-2 win at Joe Louis Arena. L.A. peppered Howard with 47 shots, including 23 in the second period alone.
The visitors almost rewrote the story of Howard’s heroics with time running out in regulation. With their own goaltender Jonathan Quick off for an extra skater, the Kings kept the puck in the Red Wings zone and applied heavy pressure. That paid off when Alec Martinez was able to take advantage of a scramble in front of Howard to find the twine for his first goal of the season with 53 seconds left.
Amazingly, that still left enough time for one more goal. Following a face off in Kings territory, a clearing attempt by Drew Doughty its way back to Jonathan Ericsson, who had maintained his position just inside the blue line. His big slap shot hit Quick, but it kept going with enough momentum to trickle across the goal line with just 4.5 seconds showing on the clock.
For a while it appeared Damien Brunner‘s sixth goal of the year, a snap shot off a nice two-man play with Henrik Zetterberg, might be the game-winning goal. That came all the way back at the 17:28 mark of the first period, and though Anze Kopitar scored before the first intermission, it almost held up the rest of the way.
That was primarily due to Howard, who also got the win in Saturday’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers. But the Wings netminder was tested much more often by the Kings, particularly in a second period when the ice seemed titled toward the Detroit end. Howard made saves with every piece of his equipment in the middle frame, perhaps none better than the one he made to stone Dwight King on a shot from right in front of the crease after he made an initial stop on a shot coming from his left.
Along with out-shooting the Red Wings 47-31, the Kings also racked up more hits, won more faceoffs and forced more turnovers. The only edge Detroit had was in special teams, killing off all three L.A. power plays while scoring on one of their own on Pavel Datsyuk‘s first period marker.
As unlikely as it was, the Wings will gladly take their third straight win and rest their tired legs. They return to action for a big rivalry game on Wednesday at the Joe against the St. Louis Blues.
The game was over when…
Quick couldn’t find the handle on Ericsson’s blast. Last year’s all-everything goalie hasn’t looked quite the same in 2013, perhaps due to off-season surgery. There was a bit of a screen set up by Valtteri Filppula, but even so, the last shot he faced was one that Quick probably wished he had back.
The unsung Red Wings hero was…
Can I pick two in this game? It’s my segment, so I’m going to go for it. Both Tomas Tatar and Drew Miller made the most of their ice time, providing some energy in a game when Detroit was lacking it in big stretches. The Wings need their third and fourth lines to at least provide some semblance of a threat, and they did just enough against the Kings.