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Conklin posts fifth shutout of season, Red Wings blank Kings 4-0

LOS ANGELES - Ty Conklin has more shutouts this season for the Detroit Red Wings than either Kirk Maltby or linemate Kris Draper have goals.

Thursday night, Maltby and Draper each had a goal and an assist, and Conklin posted his fifth shutout in the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings' 4-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. It was the first time this season that Maltby and Draper scored in the same game.

"We've had nights where we've had some opportunities and the puck just wouldn't go in, but tonight Malt got us going with the first goal," Draper said. "We were able to get on the cycle tonight and contribute.

"Anytime a fourth line can chip in with a couple of goals, it's certainly going to help your cause. It hasn't happened nearly as often as we would like, but hopefully our line got a little momentum here and we can build on that."

Maltby was back in the lineup after sitting out Wednesday's 4-3 victory in Anaheim - only the second time this season that he was a healthy scratch.

"As a player, you're never happy with it. And if you are, you shouldn't be in this game," said Draper, who has been Maltby's teammate since the 1995-96 season. "Malt's a proud man and he's got a lot of pride. That's what makes him such a good professional. He handled it the right way.

"Sure you get teed off. So when you get a chance to come back in, you want to make sure it doesn't happen again. You want to come back and respond and take those thoughts right out of the coach's head. Tonight was good for him. He's played a lot of great hockey games for this organization."

Coach Mike Babcock didn't deny that he got the desired results from Maltby after giving him a night off to watch the game from a different perspective and think about what he could do to pick up his game.

"What you're always trying to do is get everyone to be the best players they can be," Babcock said. "Suddenly, you're a veteran player and your role is diminished a little bit on a good team, so maybe you're not as fired up as you have to be. I don't know if he played angry tonight, but there's nothing wrong with a player saying, 'Well, I'll show him."'

The Red Wings have earned at least a point in a season-high 10 straight games. Johan Franzen scored his 20th of the season on a power play after getting the go-ahead goal Wednesday night in a 4-3 win at Anaheim. Mikael Samuelsson also found the net for Detroit, 19-2-0 in its last 21 meetings with the Kings.

Conklin, who faced 23 shots in his ninth career shutout, has won his last five starts and is 8-1-1 over his last nine - including shutouts against San Jose, Chicago and Columbus. He's 5-1-0 lifetime against the Kings, who have scored no more than two goals in 10 of their last 14 games. They were shut out for the seventh time this season and fifth time at home.

The Kings have lost three consecutive home games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 3-5, 2007. In all three games, they fell behind 3-0.

"It's very disappointing," Patrick O'Sullivan said. "The season can go one way or another right now, and that's what's happened with this organization in the past. Right around this time, everything falls apart. Games start to get away from you, and then the season is over."

Los Angeles defenceman Drew Doughty, the second overall pick in the draft, missed his first game of the campaign because of a bruised right thigh after getting rammed into the boards by Tampa Bay's Evgeny Artyukhin in Monday's 3-1 loss. Doughty leads the team in ice time per game.

Maltby opened the scoring at 7:40 of the first period from the edge of the crease after Kings defenceman Denis Gauthier lost the puck to Draper behind the net.

"Any success we've ever had, we've always needed the fourth line going," Maltby said. "When we contribute and chip in offensively, it makes things so much easier for everyone else."

The Red Wings, who have been one of the best passing teams in the league year after year, displayed their brilliance again to increase the margin to 2-0. Playoff MVP Henrik Zetterberg received a sharp cross-ice pass from Jiri Hudler in the right circle, then quickly slid the puck between the legs of defenceman Sean O'Donnell to a wide-open Franzen at the left of the crease at 16:44 of the first.

"It's all about chemistry," Maltby said. "Obviously, we have good players and we've got a good nucleus of guys who have been here for a few years, so everyone's probably played with everyone else at some given time."

Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios was in the lineup for only the sixth time this season and first time since Jan. 6, when he broke Scott Stevens' career record for games played in the regular season. Chelios played 21 shifts totalling about 13 1/2 minutes and was on the ice for all three of Detroit's even-strength goals. Chelios turns 47 on Jan. 25.

"Cheli did a good job," Babcock said. "He hasn't played in a while, and he's not going to play all the time. This is his role on this team. I've got to get the young guys ice time."

Notes: The Kings are 51-109-5 with 23 ties against teams defending a Stanley Cup championship, 15-54-1 with 12 ties against "Original Six" teams defending the title, and 5-7-1 with two ties against Detroit in those situations. ... The fathers of the Red Wings players will meet up with them in San Jose as they go for the California Trifecta on Saturday night at the Shark Tank.


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