LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Playing the Detroit Red Wings is a good measuring stick for any team. The Los Angeles Kings learned a few things about themselves after a tough overtime victory against the Western Conference leaders.
Anze Kopitar scored 4:04 into overtime, Justin Williams and defenceman Alec Martinez each had a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Quick made 27 saves to lead the Kings to a 3-2 victory on Saturday night and snap Detroit’s four-game winning streak.
“It’s a huge win against arguably the best team in the league right now,” Williams said. “We battled back from a couple one-goal deficits and we played a strong third period. Everyone stepped up, and Kopi got a huge winning goal.”
Jonathan Ericsson and Todd Bertuzzi had the Red Wings’ goals. Chris Osgood made 22 saves in his first start for Detroit since beating Nashville on Oct. 30. Osgood sat out 13 games because of a groin injury.
“When you’re hurt and can’t play, the more disappointed you are as you go along,” Osgood said. “Then, as you get closer and closer, you get more antsy to get back in the nets. So it was good that I played on this road trip, because I wasn’t sure if I would. I didn’t feel any different than I did against Nashville, so that was good.
“It’s something to build on and look forward to the next time I get in there. I was anxious to play again, but I don’t get nervous anymore.”
The winning goal came after the Red Wings turned over the puck. Kings captain Dustin Brown sent a cross-ice pass to Kopitar, who beat Osgood from the right circle for his 10th of the season.
“Brown has a great shot, so I had to respect what he was going to do with it,” Osgood said. “He made a nice pass to Kopitar and he shot it pretty quick. I thought I got across in time. If he would have shot it left and low, I would have had it. But it got back across me and just found a hole.”
The Red Wings, who had only one power play in Friday’s 4-0 win at Anaheim, were 0 for 2 with the advantage against Los Angeles. The Kings are the only team not to allow a power-play goal at home, killing all 43 chances this season.
“This team will never pack it in,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “The one thing that I think we showed last year in our character is that we’re a gritty hockey club. You’re going to get knocked down, and there will be difficult times in a game or in a stretch of the season. But you just have to climb back up on top and get right after it and stay after it—and it paid off for us.
“It was a good win and it was a fun game.”
Detroit took a 1-0 lead with Ericsson’s goal at 15:19 of the first period. Kopitar had trouble controlling a bouncing puck in the neutral zone, and Pavel Datsyuk carried it into the Kings’ end. Datsyuk took a shot from the top of the right circle that was stopped by Quick’s right leg, but Ericsson converted the rebound.
“That guy is unbelievable,” Kopitar said of Datsyuk. “With the firepower and offensive skill he has, you have to be real careful playing against him and (forward Henrik) Zetterberg and the rest of those guys. You just have to make the right decision 100 per cent of the time.”
Williams tied it 24 seconds into the second, redirecting Rob Scuderi’s slap shot from the left point past Osgood’s stick. The Red Wings regained the lead 48 seconds later when Bertuzzi put in a rebound of Johan Franzen’s short backhander after Kings defenceman Matt Greene was bumped off the puck in the left corner.
“I thought we cranked it up in the second,” Kopitar said. “We got a couple of goals there and we had some good momentum off the power play. We didn’t get a goal on it, but I think we generated quite a few chances. Detroit is always a good team and you have to be very disciplined against them.”
Martinez pulled the Kings even again at 7:18 with a wrist shot from the left point that changed direction after hitting a Detroit player.
“They usually shoot more than that, but tonight they didn’t. They were passing a lot more,” Osgood said. “It’s difficult to play against them. With their talent, they’re going to win a lot of games playing like this. We were tired, but we still gave ourselves a chance to win the game. So that was a positive for us.”
NOTES: Kings RW Wayne Simmonds has one goal and no assists in 15 games since his winning goal Oct. 28 at Dallas. … Osgood needs two wins to become the 10th goalie with 400 NHL wins. … Seven of the Kings’ 15 victories have been by one-goal margins. … Detroit C Centre Kris Draper saw limited action in his season debut after missing 23 games because of a groin injury and a sports hernia that required surgery.