The LA Kings took an 7 game winning streak into this big game vs the tough Detroit Red Wings who started the game 9 points ahead of the home LA team. Ex-King Tony Granato was honored as part of the legends series as LA were their old yellow and purple jerseys in dedication. The Kings came out with a lot of energy and took a 1-0 lead with a tip in goal by Justin Williams (his 16th of the season) and that is how the first period ended.
Detroit just came off a tough loss the night before to the Ducks giving up 3 third period goals. They also are playing their second straight game without captain and key player Henrik Zetterberg tied with Pavel Datsyuk for the team lead with 49 points, who was injured 2 games ago and is day to day. Jimmy Howard was given the night off in favor or backup Jonas Gustavsson. I talked to Gustavsson after his great performance and how tough it was playing without Zetterberg and he said, “I am looking forward to a good practice tomorrow and shake off what happened tonight. Zetterberg is our top player but we always have guys stepping up and we have 20 other guys that is filling his spot and we have to survive without our key guys. Of course we would want them on the ice.”
On the Kings side, Jonathan Quick was solid again. The second period was tight and well played by both teams. Each had power play chances and there was no scoring so it was still 1-0 going into the third period. 15-13 shots on goal for LA after 2 periods. The Red Wings have had some changes over the years but still remain a good team led by head coach Mike Babcock. Tomas Tatar leads the team with 24 goals while Gustav Nyquist and long time Wing Datsyuk each have 21 goals. The defensive game continued into the third period. Quick made an unbelievable point blank save early in the period. Kopitar got a bit too cute on a 2-1 odd man rush and didn’t get a great shot off. Quick came to the rescue again with more great saves down the stretch. Dustin Brown made a key steal and drew a penalty vs. Jacob Kindl with a little more than 5 minutes left. The Kings earned a short 2 man power play when defenseman Luke Glendening shot the puck over the glass to add to the problems for Detroit.
The final was 1-0 in front of the 18,230 sell out crowd.
I talked to Quick after the game and asked about the winning streak. He said in his calm demeanor, “It is not about the streak as we are trying to get into the playoffs. We are only in a playoff spot by a point or two and we have a lot of work to do and have to focus on the next game. We have to play one game at a time and keep plugging along.”
I asked Kopitar what has made the team gel so well as of late. He said, “You win, you win two, you feel a bit more confident. We knew just because we were in the position we were in before, the streak like this will put us out of the hole and now we broke even but we have to keep going like this.This time of the year playing desperate teams, taking care of the puck is so important and not turning the puck over. The 5-3 and 5-4 power plays were good even though we didn’t put the puck in the net. We also need our penalty killing to be on”.
I asked Justin Williams what the keys were with the team playing so well and if he knew his lone goal would stand up. He said, “ Many things have led to the streak and when things are going well, you have to keep them going well. There are many things going well that has led to the streak.”
Coach Sutter said the team has 9 left at home before the playoffs and what was the key to this game when I asked about each. “He said both teams were very good defensively and don’t give up much and that is exactly how the game played out.”
The following quotes are from the King’s PR.
KINGS HEAD COACH DARRYL SUTTER:
(RE: GAME RECAP):
“Obviously we liked our game. We won and what we’re trying to do is win games, so I liked that. The power play scored a big goal early to give us the early lead. 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.”
(RE: HAPPY TO BE HOME):
“Well we only have nine [games] left at home. We play Ottawa and then hit the road again.”
KINGS GOALTENDER JONATHAN QUICK:
(RE: INTENSE GAME):
“The PK was great. They have one of the top power-plays in the league, and we really cut down their chances. They had about four or five power-plays, so that says a lot about our group. We took away time and space, we were good up-ice, and we were good through the neutral zone.”
“It’s the middle of the season. We’re just playing one game at a time. It’s not about the streak; we’re just trying to get into the playoffs. We are only in the playoffs right now by a fraction, and there is still a lot of hockey to play.”
KINGS FORWARD JUSTIN WILLIAMS:
(RE: TEAM DEFENSIVE PLAY):
“That team [Detroit] is a high-scoring, high-forechecking, five-man team, and they are dangerous. Credit our six men on the ice for doing well.”
“It just feels like some nights you see the saves he makes and you think he isn’t going to let anyone score tonight. He’s been a rock throughout this win streak, and he will continue to be.”
(RE: JUMP IN STANDINGS):
“We’re climbing, but we certainly aren’t where we want to be yet. We are in the top eight, and that’s a start. The thing is, when things are going well, you want to keep them going well. You have to work harder to keep them going well.”
RED WINGS HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK:
(RE: GAME RECAP):
“I thought it was a good hockey game. They got the two on one early and then they scored on the power play. I thought we were going to get a good opportunity. I thought we got better as the game went on. I didn’t like the five on three at the end because of the fact that there’d be a couple of minutes killing in our own zone. Gus [Jonas Gustavsson] gave us an opportunity, and our guys battled hard. They’re a good team and we’re a good team, there wasn’t much room out there.”
“Gus [Jonas Gustavsson] played well. I think Gus [Jonas Gustavsson] plays well all the time, he just doesn’t play since he’s injured so much, when he plays, he plays well. He gives us a chance most nights.”
“They were real good. They kept us on the walls. We got a couple of chances, but our best one was with Gus [Gustav Nyquist], late, walking down the middle, but we were unable to capitalize on it.”
RED WINGS FORWARD JUSTIN ABDELKADER:
(RE: GAME RECAP):
“It felt like it took us five or ten minutes to find our legs out there. They got a power-play goal kind of right away. Once we got settled down, I thought we did a lot of good things out there. Obviously they are a good team, their defensemen are big, they like to be physical and take the body. There wasn’t a lot of room out there.”
“We weren’t together. We didn’t make our adjustments right away like we should have. We kept pucks on the walls, which is where LA wants the puck. We need to communicate better. Our power-play has won us a lot of games this year, but it’s got to come through with at least one goal there.”
RED WINGS GOALTENDER JONAS GUSTAVSSON:
“It’s always frustrating to let in a goal, but you’ve just got to move on. It was a good shot and deflection. Whether it’s a good or bad goal, you have to look forward to the next save. That’s what I did. I think we battled hard today. It makes it easier for you as a goalie to battle when you see all of the guys working hard.”
(RE: GAME RECAP):
“I think it was a good game overall for both teams. It felt kind of like a playoff game. It was a tight and low scoring game. We did a good job of keeping them on the outside. We spent a lot of time on their side. It’s too bad that we couldn’t get a goal tonight but we’ve got to give credit to all the guys for how hard they battled.”
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