Royal crush: Wings wilt under Kings' 4-goal onslaught

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Detroit center Dylan Larkin looks away as Los Angeles celebrates a goal by Anze Kopitar.

Detroit — Games can shift quickly in professional sports, and specifically in the NHL.

Such was the case Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, in a game the Red Wings had the lead, some control, and were getting some great offensive chances.

They just didn’t capitalize, and then, in a span of 3 minutes, 15 seconds, the Los Angeles Kings scored three goals and were on their way to a 4-1 victory.

“We carried the play for sure in the second (period) and we didn’t score,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “That to me was the difference in the game. We had big-time chances and we didn’t score.”

The loss extended the Red Wings’(10-10-5, 25 points) losing streak to five games (0-2-3) as they are quickly wasting this extended home stand.
“It is frustrating,” said goaltender Jimmy Howard of the lack of success at home. “We have to figure it out.”

BOX SCORE: Kings 4, Red Wings 1

Mike Green scored his second goal of the season, the lone Red Wing player to convert against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (23 saves), who was sensational in the second period, keeping Los Angeles (14-8-3, 31 points) close.

“Certainly he’s (Quick) one of the best in the league,” Blashill said. “He does that against a lot of people a lot of nights. We had some real good chances and didn’t score.”

The Kings tied the game on Dustin Brown’s 10th goal at 17:43 of the second period.

Los Angeles kept pressing, and earned a power play on a Darren Helm interference penalty at 19:45.

The Kings won the faceoff, and executed a perfect passing play, with Drew Doughty’s deft touch pass to Anze Kopitar — who was the best player other than Quick on the ice — resulting in a Kopitar one-timer at 19:53, just eight seconds into the power play.

Just 58 seconds into the third period, impressive rookie Adrian Kempe scored his eighth goal depositing a rebound off the end boards past Howard at the post.

“We turned the puck over twice in my mind (on Kempe’s goal) and it ends up in our net,” Blashill said. “Certainly those are two tough goals (including the final minute of the second period) to give up and they suck the life out of you.”

Kopitar was credited with his second goal and 12th of the season at 12:17 of the third period, though the shot appeared to deflect off Brown, and past Howard.

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Howard and Quick were both outstanding at various moments, but it was Quick who had the edge in the second period, keeping the Kings in the game.
Quick’s best save was a sprawling save on Dylan Larkin, who was in deep with Tomas Tatar and had most of the net to shoot at.

Quick twice frustrated Gustav Nyquist with highlight-reel saves, the better one on a 2-on-1 rush that Nyquist put a bit of a fake but couldn’t solve the Kings’ goaltender.

“It’s frustrating, I had a few chances I have to put in the net, simple as that,” Nyquist said. “He’s a good goalie and he’s going to make those crazy saves and he did that (Tuesday).”

What’s of concern, as this home stand creeps to an end — the Red Wings have six of their next seven games at home, but against some quality opponents — is the points the Red Wings haven’t been able to secure.

At the end of the season, it could be missed points that keep the Red Wings out of the playoffs.

“It’s not good enough,” said Nyquist, of the losses at home. “It’s something we talked about, to be good at home. We’ve done a good job on the road and coming back here for a long stretch, we haven’t done that.”