Los Angeles — All Jonas Gustavsson had was a 10-minute relief performance Saturday and two conditioning games in Grand Rapids since his last NHL start Nov. 5.
But it was hard to tell Tuesday as Gustavsson was turning aside the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings time after time.
And despite the 1-0 loss — the Kings scored on an early power play — Gustavsson again showed he can be a quality backup to Jimmy Howard.
When he's healthy, that is.
"Gus plays well all the time, he just doesn't play since he's injured so much," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "When he plays, he plays well. He gives us a chance most nights."
Gustavsson, who had 26 saves against the Kings, suffered a separated shoulder Nov. 5, and has had groin issues for parts of his first two seasons with the Red Wings.
How much work Gustavsson receives the rest of the season remains to be seen. But, the Red Wings need him to be ready, and healthy.
"There's only about six weeks left before the end of the season, so we'll see what happens," Gustavsson said.
For those who missed Tuesday's game, Gustavsson said "it felt like a playoff game."
What hurt the Red Wings was their 0-for-5 power play.
"(The Kings) were real good, they kept us on the walls," Babcock said. "We got a couple of chances, our best one was maybe Gus (Nyquist in the third period) walking down the middle, but we were unable to capitalize."
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Kyle Quincey (bone chips, ankle) can resume practicing when he's ready.
Quincey missed the last three games, but after seeing a specialist in Los Angeles, he was advised he can put off surgery until after the season.
Getting it right
Babcock was seen arguing with officials over a late delay of game against the Red Wings, but admitted after the game he was wrong.
He saw video confirming Luke Glendening shot the puck over the glass with no Kings player touching it first.
"It was our fault, I got some misdirection," Babcock said. "I'll have to talk to those officials. We work together all the time. You have to treat them better than that."
Red Wings at Sharks
Faceoff: 10:30 p.m. Thursday, SAP Center, San Jose, Calif.
Outlook: This is be the first game between the teams. ... The Sharks are outside the playoff picture after a 3-6-1 run. ... Sharks C Joe Pavelski ranks among NHL leaders in points (55) and goals (31).