Red Wings will need more than luck vs. Kings this time

By Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News

Detroit — Brendan Smith remembers well the Red Wings' 3-2 overtime victory over Los Angeles last season at Joe Louis Arena.

That was the game, you remember, when Niklas Kronwall's goal deflected off the mesh and off Kings goalie Jonathan Quick's back, and into the net, forcing overtime.

"We did get a lucky one," said Smith, who added Quick and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty were irate. "Doughty and everyone was yelling it went off the mesh. I remember it pretty clear. I remember that one more than a lot of the disallowed goals we've had."

Said Jimmy Howard: "We had one gift-wrapped."

The Red Wings realize they can't count on another one like that Friday playing against the Kings, who've won two of the last three Stanley Cups, including last season. At 6-1-2 (14 points), it's not like the Kings have slowed down this season.

They essentially brought back the entire roster from last season, and that roster is as deep as it's ever been.

"They're good, they win," coach Mike Babcock said. "It's a program built with size, speed and skill, and they've made moves over time to set themselves up for success."

Doughty, Quick and forward Anze Kopitar are franchise players in Babcock's estimation, and when complemented with players such as forward Jeff Carter (five goals, 12 points), it's a lineup that can beat you in a variety of ways.

Plus, the Kings have the confidence and knowledge of having won two Stanley Cups, and winning seventh games of series – all three during the Western Conference playoffs, all on the road.

"When it comes down to important games, they've obviously done a real good job," Jonathan Ericsson said. "They know their potential. When tough times come, they really rely on each other and know what they can do, and they've been really successful that way.

"They have a real good mix of players who know their roles. Everybody is on the same page."

Carter's line centering Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson has combined for 17 goals and 17 assists this season.

"I know him (Carter) real good from having him at the Olympics," said Babcock, of the Canadian team member. "He can play with and without the puck and he's got a bomb of a shot. He scores for fun."

Back together

Thursday's lines at practice resembled how the Red Wings ended up the night before in Washington.

Pavel Datsyuk was centering Justin Abdelkader and Henrik Zetterberg, while Riley Sheahan was between Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

Babcock would like to have Datsyuk and Zetterberg on the same line.

"That's what we'd like," Babcock said. "(Datsyuk) was hurt (in the preseason) so we tried to get Pav skating by playing him in the middle. We like Pav in the middle and Z to play on the wall with him."

"With those guys, you just try to skate and be hard on the forecheck for them, be around the net," said Abdelkader, who tries to pattern his game the way Tomas Holmstrom did playing with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. "Find my areas I need to go. Those guys are so offensively gifted, teams will give them so much respect."

Ice chips

Johan Franzen (groin) completed Thursday's practice and is on schedule to play Sunday in Buffalo.

… Stephen Weiss (groin) was recalled from his conditioning assignment in Grand Rapids.

… The Red Wings hosted Owen Provencher, a 6-year-old from Sacramento, and part of the Make A Wish Foundation. Provencher skated with the Red Wings, played goalie and did interviews after practice.

This was a special opportunity for Jimmy Howard, who knew the Provencher family going back to his youth, and has known Owen for some time.

"Owen is a great kid, and for us to make a wish come true for him, it's real special," Howard said.

Kings at Red Wings

Faceoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1

Outlook: The Kings are on a five-game road trip, and their third game in four nights. … The line of RW Tyler Toffoli, C Jeff Carter and LW Tanner Pearson have combined for 17 of the team's 23 goals. … G Jonathan Quick is off to a fine start (5-1-2, 1.78 GAA, .950 SVS).