|LAK||0||2||0||(0 - 0)||2|
|DET||1||0||0||(0 - 0)||1|
DETROIT -- Terry Murray extended his arms, placing his hands as far apart as possible.
How much, Murray was asked Wednesday morning, did he want to see goalie Jonathan Quick grab hold of the No. 1 job and remove any doubt during the Kings' playoff push?
``About that much,'' Murray said with a laugh, arms spread. ``A whole lot.''
If they're going to hold on to a playoff spot in the tight Western Conference, the Kings are going to need -- among other things -- some consistently strong play from Quick. They certainly got it Wednesday night, as Quick turned in one of his best efforts of the season in a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
The Kings survived a rough first period, broke their power-play drought on the game-winning goal and played an excellent final 20 minutes in the defensive zone. Quick made 28 saves, including a couple highlight-reel saves, to make the narrow lead hold up.
``(Detroit) played a good game but we found a way to win, which we're going to have to do some more of,'' Kings captain Dustin Brown said.
The game had plenty of subtext, particularly for Quick, even setting aside the fact that every point is critical for the Kings in this final month of the regular season.
Going in, the wounds were still fresh from the Feb. 28 game at STAPLES Center, in which the Red Wings scored seven consecutive goals, chased Quick from the game in the third period and went on to record a resounding 7-4 win over the Kings.
Quick got the call against the Red Wings again, though, and a chance to prove that his last effort in Detroit was no fluke. On Dec. 13, Quick had a monstrous effort in a 51-save shutout, but his effort Wednesday night arguably matched them.
Quick recorded what might have been the Kings' save of the season, in terms of skill and significance. The Kings trailed 1-0, seven minutes into the second period, when Valtteri Filppula made a nice backdoor pass. Niklas Kronwall fired a one-timer, but Quick, cool as can be, flipped his blocker to make the save and send the puck out of play.
On the Kings' next shift, Anze Kopitar tied the game by knocking in a rebound.
``The absolute turning point of that game was when it was 1-0,'' Kings winger Justin Williams said. ``They had a backdoor play to Kronwall, and he came across, post to post, and made a save. It would have been 2-0. Instead we came back a couple minutes later, and Kopi scored, and I thought that's when we really turned the corner.
``(Quick is) the reason we won that game. He's the reason we were able to turn it around. It was a huge, huge two points for us.''
The Kings did an excellent job of limiting the Red Wings' offensive chances in the third period, although they did have some nervous moments with the Detroit net empty in the final minute. Ultimately, they held on to start the four-game road trip with a win.
In two games in Joe Louis Arena this season, Quick stopped 79 of 80 shots. True to his low-key nature, Quick deflected the attention given to his strong game.
``It was a great team win,'' Quick said. ``We have to keep it going here. Just because we won, we have no breathing room at all. We've got to keep on it. We've got to keep pushing here, to make sure we're in that top eight at the end of the year.''
The Kings had to overcome some early adversity to get the two points.
Detroit didn't score on an early power play, but generated some momentum and took a 1-0 lead 5:57 into the first period. Darren Helm carried the puck up to the middle of the left faceoff circle, then put a shot on goal. Quick made the initial stop, but the puck trickled behind him and rolled across the goal line.
The Kings tied the game 7:50 into the second period. Dustin Penner shot from the left boards and, after the puck bounced on the way to the net, goalie Jimmy Howard couldn't control it. Kopitar crashed the net and knocked in the rebound to tie the game 1-1. Williams also picked up an assist.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead on Brown's power-play goal with 5:17 remaining in the second period. Michal Handzus pushed the puck up top to Martinez, who took a slap shot from the point. Ponikarovsky tipped the shot, and Brown was credited with the goal for tipping the puck right in front of the net.
The Kings tweaked their power-play setup after going 0-for-10 in the previous two games, and although it was the second unit -- not the first unit, on which the Kings made the changes -- that scored, coach Terry Murray was happy with the attitude that led to the goal.
``Both goals,'' Murray said. ``It's the same with the first play. Just get pucks to the net. The power play was a little bit of a struggle there at the start. We could not get a recovered puck, to get set up. We looked very disorganized, but the unit that was out there with Martinez, they worked very hard. Ponikarovsky was good down low. He recovered some pucks, whenever they were loose, to get it back up top again, and just with that shot attitude, it paid off for us.''
From there, the Kings did a good job in the neutral zone to limit Detroit's chances, and actually outshot the Red Wings 9-8 in a scoreless third period.
``The one thing with Detroit is, you've got to really have your tracking coming back, reloads, everybody has to work very hard,'' Murray said. ``They're coming with four and five. So that was just the conversation. We know how to check. We've done a very good job on that in the last couple years. Our attitude in the second half of the game was more as to what we need to do in order to play a hockey game the right way.''
|Darren Helm (10) Slapshot - ASST: Justin Abdelkader (10), Kris Draper (4)|
1 - 0 DET
|Anze Kopitar (21) Wrist shot - ASST: Dustin Penner (20), Justin Williams (32)|
1 - 1 Tie
|PPG - Alexei Ponikarovsky (5) Tip-in - ASST: Alec Martinez (8)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Jack Johnson Boarding against Darren Helm|
|Anze Kopitar Tripping against Henrik Zetterberg|
|Jiri Hudler Hooking against Willie Mitchell|
|Valtteri Filppula Hooking against Anze Kopitar|
|Brad Stuart Closing hand on puck|
|SA: 29||TOI: 60:00|
|Saves: 28||EV: 27 - 28|
|PIM: 0||PP: 1 - 1|
|SV%: .966||SH: 0 - 0|
|SA: 26||TOI: 58:50|
|Saves: 24||EV: 20 - 21|
|PIM: 0||PP: 4 - 5|
|SV%: .923||SH: 0 - 0|