DETROIT – With his team down a goal and the Detroit Red Wings pressuring the net, Jonathan Quick made a couple big saves in the second period.
They ended up turning the game around.
Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown scored later in the second and Quick made 28 saves in the Los Angeles Kings’ 2-1 victory over the slumping Red Wings on Wednesday night. Darren Helm opened the scoring for Detroit in the first, but Quick made sure the deficit didn’t get any worse.
“Quick was really good, especially early in the game,” Brown said. “He gave us a chance to come back.”
Detroit is winless in its last four games and trails Vancouver by nine points for the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Kings, meanwhile, continued their push in the middle of a jumbled race for playoff positions in the West. They are 13-3-4 in their last 20 games.
Quick improved to 10-3-1 in his last 14 games.
Los Angeles took the lead when Brown scored on a power play with 5:17 left in the second. Alec Martinez’s shot from the point was actually deflected twice—by Alexei Ponikarovsky and then Brown—on its way into the net. Detroit fans voiced their displeasure, because it appeared Nicklas Lidstrom had been high-sticked by Michal Handzus immediately before the goal.
“I got a few stitches in the lower lip,” Lidstrom said. “There are four guys on the ice and no one saw it. There’s nothing you can do.”
It was Brown’s 22nd goal of the season.
“It’s a tough play on the one goal where they score,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “We could have easily been going on a 4-minute power play there. That’s the way it goes.”
Quick made a nice save early in the first period, stopping Jiri Hudler’s shot from just to the left of the goal. The goalie was less fortunate when Helm’s shot slipped through his legs and trickled slowly across the goal line.
Detroit outshot Los Angeles 11-3 in the first period and seemed on the verge of increasing its lead in the second, but Quick made a glove save on Kris Draper’s backhand, and then robbed Niklas Kronwall from point-blank range.
The Kings tied it with 12:10 left in the second when Dustin Penner took a soft shot from the left boards. Jimmy Howard left a rebound, and Kopitar was able to put the puck in for his 21st goal of the season.
“We played a great second period. I think we outplayed them and got chances and scored two big goals,” Quick said. “You could tell it was really hard for them to get through the neutral zone. It was hard on them.”
Once the Kings took the lead, Quick made it hold up. He stopped Valtteri Filppula’s shot from the slot with 8:29 left in the game. Henrik Zetterberg also had a chance to tie it in the final seconds but couldn’t beat Quick from a severe angle.
“I thought the third period was a muddy track, like you expected against a team that is checking and you’re working and you’re pushing,” Babcock said. “It was a tight game, we had every opportunity to win the game, we didn’t find a way. We’ve just got to keep playing like that and starting like we did and getting pucks ahead and shooting pucks and going to the net.”
Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty staggered to the bench early in the third period after being caught in the face by Todd Bertuzzi’s elbow while the Red Wing—playing without a stick—was trying to clear the puck from his own zone. Doughty was able to return.
NOTES: Detroit D Brian Rafalski (back) was scratched. … Los Angeles killed two penalties, running its streak to 15 straight. The Kings have killed 58 of their last 63 penalties. … Helm’s goal was his 10th of the season.