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Niklas Kronwall has four assists, helps Red Wings to 6-2 victory over Kings

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings showed why they have the league's best record, and extended Los Angeles' struggles.

Henrik Zetterberg and Dan Cleary each had a goal and an assist to lift the Red Wings to a 6-2 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night. Detroit, which has won 10 of its last 11 games, improved its record to 25-6-3 and tied the franchise record for fewest games (34) to reach 25 wins, set previously in 1995-96.

"We controlled the game in every area," Cleary said.

Jiri Hudler, Tomas Holmstrom, Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula got the Red Wings' other goals. Niklas Kronwall had four assists for his career-high point total and Dominik Hasek made 18 saves.

Dustin Brown and Patrick O'Sullivan scored for the Kings, and Jason LaBarbera stopped 29 shots. Los Angeles (12-21-2), which lost its fifth straight, has a NHL-low 26 points.

"There's an absolute reason why they're the best team in the league," LaBarbera said. "All four lines are on the same page and all six D are on the same page."

Holmstrom's 17th goal gave Detroit a 3-2 lead 3:35 into the second period. He got his stick on a puck loose in LaBarbera's pads and poked it into the net. The play was set up when Zetterberg directed a puck in the air toward the net. Kings' deafens Tom Preissing tried to knock the puck down with his glove, but he deflected it right into LaBarbera's pads.

"The third goal was a lucky goal," O'Sullivan said. "The goalie couldn't find it in his pads."

Cleary's power-play goal made it 4-2 with 8:15 left in the middle period when he tipped in Niklas Kronwall's shot from the point. It was Cleary's 11th goal.

Kronwall, who has missed a lot of time with injuries in his four-season career, is beginning to fulfil the offensive potential the Red Wings have seen in him.

"I hope he's got it figured out," Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. "The reason he had four assists was he was shooting the puck. He's injured a lot. If he keeps playing, he's just going to get better."

Kronwall credited the Red Wings in front of the net.

"I just kind of got the lucky bounces," he said. "And our forwards were able to do a good job with the rebounds. So it was just one of those nights."

Franzen got his fifth goal 49 seconds into the third period, and Filppula scored his eighth at 8:57.

O'Sullivan tied the game at 2, 15 seconds into the second period when he beat Hasek with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle. It was his seventh goal.

Zetterberg opened the scoring with a power-play goal just 59 seconds into the game. He beat LaBarbera with a wrist shot from the inside edge of the left circle for his 25th goal.

"The first minute of the game we got a penalty and it went from there," LaBarbera said.

Hudler made it 2-0 Detroit when he put in a loose puck for his eighth goal of the season at 7:37.

Brown put Los Angeles on the board with a power-play goal with 1:28 left in the opening period. Lubomir Visnovsky's shot deflected off the skate of Red Wings' defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom right to Brown in the slot, who beat Hasek for his 16th goal.

Notes: Detroit C Kris Draper returned after missing nine games with a sprained knee. ... Los Angeles LW Ladislav Nagy missed his seventh game with a hip flexor injury. ... Red Wings' LW Kirk Maltby missed his 10th game with a back injury. ... Kings assistant coach Dave Lewis coached Detroit in 2002-03 and 2003-04. ... Lidstrom leads all Western Conference players in voting for the NHL all-star Game in Atlanta on Jan. 27, with 354,186 votes. Zetterberg (247,118) and Pavel Datsyuk (214, 299) are the top two forwards in Western Conference balloting. ... Los Angeles D Jack Johnson was born in Ann Arbor and played collegiately at Michigan. Kings C Mike Cammalleri also played at Michigan.



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