LOS ANGELES – Rookie Jimmy Howard made 27 of his career-high 51 saves in the second period, Darren Helm scored with 18 seconds left in the third period, and Dan Cleary scored in the final second of the first to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Howard stopped the first 51 shots he faced before Ryan Smyth tied it on the Kings’ final drive with 4:22 left. Smyth’s power-play tally extended his goal streak to four games.
Helm also stretched his scoring run to four. He took the puck from defenceman Sean O’Donnell in the right corner and threw it at the net, where it trickled under Jonathan Quick’s pads for his seventh goal.
Howard, coming off a 4-1 loss at Anaheim on Tuesday, made his career-high seventh consecutive start. He was acrobatic during the final 2 1/2 minutes of the second period when he protected Detroit’s 1-0 lead with 12 rapid-fire saves – most while he was seated.
Los Angeles’ shot total in the second period eclipsed the previous franchise record of 26. The Kings began a seven-game homestand, their longest of the season, with their sixth straight loss to the Red Wings. The Kings, who equalled a season best with three power-play goals in Monday’s win over San Jose, were 1 for 4 with the man advantage against Detroit.
The Red Wings had 14 shots in the first period after going almost 7 minutes before recording their first. They grabbed the lead with 0.2 seconds left.
The Kings had just killed a power play when Cleary converted a rebound for his eighth goal after Quick denied Brian Rafalski and Valtteri Filppula. Quick finished with 23 saves.
Cleary sat out 12 games after separating his shoulder Dec. 9 against St. Louis.
Henrik Zetterberg another key component of Detroit’s sputtering power play, also returned after missing eight games with a separated left shoulder. But left-winger Tomas Holmstrom was sidelined after breaking his foot during practice Wednesday.
Holmstrom, who leads the Red Wings with 15 goals, is expected to miss at least three weeks.
NOTES: Chris Osgood, four wins shy of 400 in the NHL, has started only six of Detroit’s 28 games since giving up five goals at Toronto on Nov. 7. … Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom played his 40th consecutive game without a goal. His longest drought is 48 in 1992-93, when he had a career-low seven in 84 games. He is one of eight NHL defencemen with 100 shots this season, but has scored only one goal. … The Red Wings are 2 for 41 on the power play over their last 11 games. … Zetterberg has scored two goals in 17 games since a hat trick on Nov. 14 against Anaheim. … Detroit LW Kirk Maltby hasn’t recorded a point in 26 games.