LOS ANGELES – Detroit goalie Chris Osgood knows why the Red Wings came away with another impressive one-goal victory: Confidence.
Valtteri Filppula turned a turnover into the tying goal with 1:54 left in the third period, and Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg scored in a shootout as the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 Monday night.
“I think that was our best game so far. We did the right things to win that game,” goalie Chris Osgood said. “The difference in the team now is that we’re confident and we’re going to stay the course no matter what the score is or what’s happening, penalty-wise.”
Defenceman Denis Gauthier was attempting a clearing pass deep in the Kings’ zone and put it right onto the stick of the forechecking Filppula, who took one stride and beat Jason LaBarbera to the stick side with a 15-foot wrist shot.
“It’s a play that you would like to have back and do over again,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “You’re trying to do the right thing on the breakout and find the centre ice man. But there was a mistake, unfortunately, and it ended up being a goal that gives them all kinds of life.”
In the shootout, Datsyuk and Zetterberg beat LaBarbera with backhanders after Osgood stopped Dustin Brown and Oscar Moller. The victory improved Detroit’s road record to 5-0.
“They are the Stanley Cup champs, and then they added Marian Hossa which makes them that much better. They are obviously one of, if not the best team in the league,” LaBarbera said. “I thought we kept up with them well and we definitely can skate with them and as long we stick to our systems; I think sometimes we get away from that and it gets us in trouble sometimes.”
The crowd of 17,671 included hundreds of fans wearing Red Wings jerseys, and one of them threw an octopus onto the ice in the opening minute of the third period. It seemed to have fired up the Kings even more than the Red Wings when Alexander Frolov scored at the 46-second mark to give Los Angeles a 3-2 lead.
Michal Handzus sent the puck off the boards in the neutral zone to Frolov, who got a step on Brian Rafalski as he crossed the blue-line and took a shot along the ice that deflected into the net off the skate of six-time Norris Trophy-winning defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom.
Zetterberg also scored in regulation and Hossa had a power play goal for the Red Wings, who outshot the Kings 37-19. Seven of Detroit’s first nine games have been decided by one goal. The other two were decided by two-goal margins, with the Red Wings scoring an empty-net goal in both.
“It was a tight game. They played a good solid defence, they were backing up pretty good and took advantage of our mistakes,” Zetterberg said. “But I think we still played a little better defence tonight and didn’t let them shoot that much. So that was progress.”
Moller and Kyle Calder scored the Kings’ other two goals.
Detroit tied it 2-all at 9:24 of the second period on Hossa’s goal. It came with 49 seconds left on a 5-on-3 power play, after coincidental hooking penalties against Moller and Raitis Ivanans.
Hossa got the puck from Lidstrom and split between Handzus and defenceman Sean O’Donnell before beating LaBarbera to the stick side with a short wrist shot. Hossa, who signed a one-year, US$7.45 million contract with Detroit last summer after his Pittsburgh Penguins lost in the finals to the Red Wings, has five goals and seven points in his first nine games with his new team.
Calder put the Kings ahead 2-1 at 1:16 of the second with his first goal, ending a personal 20-game drought dating back to Feb. 7 against the Red Wings at Detroit.
Detroit opened the scoring at 5:54 of the first period, seven seconds after a hooking penalty against Kings defenceman Matt Greene had elapsed. Greene stormed out of the penalty box and caught up to Rafalski just in time to prevent him from getting off a clean shot from the right point, but the puck trickled ahead to Zetterberg and he beat LaBarbera low to the glove side from about 15 feet.
“It’s really important to get off to a good start,” Zetterberg said of Detroit’s 7-1-1 record. “Even though we haven’t played at our best, we’re getting our wins. But we can still improve in many things, and one of them is the defence. I think we took a step forward in that tonight.”
The Kings, who went almost 9 1/2 minutes before getting their first shot on net, tied it at 10:46 while Rafalski was off for tripping Handzus. Peter Harrold’s screened shot from the right point broke off Osgood’s glove, and the puck fell behind him in the crease before Moller poked it in for his second NHL goal.
Notes: Hossa has six goals in his last three games against Los Angeles. … The Kings have allowed three goals in eight short-handed situations during their last two games, after killing off all 27 opponents’ power plays in their first six contests. … Detroit has scored at least one power play goal in seven straight games and is 12-for-37 overall.