Los Angeles — Nobody has been defeating the Los Angeles Kings lately and Tuesday the Red Wings didn't do it, either. They came a little closer than a lot of teams of late, but lost 1-0 in a tight, defensive struggle, just how the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings like it.
It was the eighth consecutive victory for the Kings, who appear to be rounding into playoff form again.
"Obviously they're a good team," Justin Abdelkader said. "Their defensemen are big, they like to be physical and take the body. There wasn't a lot of room out there."
Kings forward Justin Williams scored on the power play at 2 minutes 24 seconds of the first period.
Williams and Anze Kopitar both appeared to get a piece of Jake Muzzin's shot from the point, Williams getting the last piece of the puck before it got past goalie Jonas Gustavsson.
"It's always frustrating to let in a goal, but you've just got to move on," said Gustavsson, who had 26 saves in his first NHL start since Nov. 5 when he separated his shoulder. "It was a good shot and deflection. Whether it's a good goal or bad goal you have to look forward to the next save. That's what I did.
"We battled hard. It makes it easier for you as a goalie when you see all the guys working hard."
Coach Mike Babcock liked what he saw from Gustavsson.
"Gus plays well all the time, he just doesn't play since he's injured so much," Babcock said. "When he plays, he plays well. He gives us a chance most nights."
The Kings had two consecutive power plays late in the third period — and a two-man advantage for 25 seconds — but the Red Wings penalty kill held strong, with Gustavsson making some big saves.
But the Red Wings never did get a quality chance in the final minute against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who had 20 saves and earned his fourth shutout.
"We did some good things but the puck didn't go in the net," Brendan Smith said. "Quickie played well and we didn't find a way."
The Red Wings had their opportunities. They had five power plays but couldn't convert, although they had some fine chances, maybe the best being Gustav Nyquist skating free through the slot and whistling a shot that Quick gloved out of thin air early in the third period.
"It was a good hockey game," Babcock said. "We got better as the game went on. I didn't like the 5-on-3 at the end because of the fact there would be a couple of minutes killing (penalties) in our own zone. Gus(tavsson) gave us an opportunity and our guys battled hard.
"They're a good team and we're a good team and there wasn't much room out there."
The lack of success on the power play was a disappointment for Babcock.
"They were real good, they kept us on the walls," Babcock said. "We got a couple of chances, our best one was maybe Gus (Nyquist) late, walking down the middle, but we were unable to capitalize."
Kings coach Darryl Sutter felt this was going to be a tight, close game so getting the power-play goal early was crucial.
"The power play scored a big goal early to give us the early lead," Sutter said. "If you're aware of stats and actual, real stats that matter, both teams are very good defensive teams. They don't give up much and that's exactly how the game played out."