Kings Batter Slumping Red Wings 5-2
With two wins in a row and twelve games to go, Los Angeles sits in tenth place in the Western Conference. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
Less than a week after surrendering a late 3-2 lead against these same Detroit Red Wings, the Kings came out of the gates firing and dominated play for the majority of the clock’s sixty minutes. Five different Kings recorded the team’s five goals en route to a resounding 5-2 win Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
An injury-plagued Detroit team may have been just what the doctor ordered for L.A. The Red Wings are still playing without key contributors Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk and Todd Bertuzzi, but were nonetheless offensively stifled at just about every turn. The Kings recorded nine shots and one goal before allowing a single Detroit shot on net in the first period of play. It was Justin Williams who notched his fourth goal in the last five games at 6:48 of the first to give his team a 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Anze Kopitar sped down the ice and added a shorthanded tally off a missed pass in the Red Wings’ offensive zone. The twenty-four-year-old center continues to lead the team in goals with twenty-one on the season, two ahead of captain Dustin Brown. It doesn’t appear that Kopitar will be able to eclipse his career high of thirty-four goals from the 2009-10 campaign, but remains on pace to play all eighty-two games for the fourth time in his career. In doing so, will also serve as an offensive force to be reckoned with at all times.
Detroit’s Jiri Hudler cut the deficit to one with his twenty-first of the season a little more than four minutes into the second frame. But Drew Doughty responded some time later with a slap-shot of his own that necessitated several moments of video review before being declared a good goal. The shot glanced off the shoulder of Mike Richards, dropped several feet onto the ice and slid between Jimmy Howard’s legs. It counted as the defenseman’s ninth goal of the season and the eventual game-winning goal. The Kings improved to 82-0-6 in their last eighty-eight games when leading after two periods.
Slava Voynov added a power play tally in the third period with assists from Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll. Add to that an Jeff Carter empty-netter and Johan Franzen’s score at the 13:30 mark of the frame is rendered completely useless. Jonathan Quick stopped twenty-two of the twenty-four shots he faced for his twenty-ninth win of the season; good for seventh overall among goaltenders in the entire league.
With the win, the team holds steady at tenth place in the Western Conference, although they carry the same number of points (78) as San Jose, Calgary and Colorado. All those teams also remain a mere one point behind Phoenix. By nearly all accounts, it would appear that those five teams will be furiously fighting against themselves for the final two slots in the playoffs. Four of the Kings’ final twelve games will be against Calgary and a particularly underachieving San Jose squad. It would be an understatement to say that these two teams, who entered the season with Stanley Cup aspirations, are playing for their players’ and respective head coaches’ welfare right now.
The Kings’ next game comes Friday night in Anaheim against a down-and-out Ducks team.