DETROIT — Jimmy Carson had his second successful homecoming here, and the Kings won both the game and the fights with the Red Wings Wednesday night.
Carson seems to thrive on playing Detroit. Behind his impressive play, the Kings won, 6-1, before a crowd of 19,140 at Joe Louis Arena. The win soothed the burn of two bitter losses last weekend and gave the Kings a 3-2 record on this trip, which has one game to go.
Carson provided the highlight of the finesse side of the game, scoring one goal and getting two assists. Dave (Tiger) Williams provided the lowlight of the physical side of the game--which at times was this game's dominant aspect.
In the Kings' three games with the Red Wings this season, Carson has had four goals and four assists. What each of those points means to the rookie is another reason the Red Wings should have made Carson--who grew up in nearby Grosse Point Woods--the team's first draft pick instead of taking Joe Murphy. Carson was the Kings' first pick in the 1986 entry draft.
This season, Carson is the NHL's second-leading rookie scorer, surpassed only by teammate Luc Robitaille. Murphy has been the biggest first-round bust in years and is playing in the minors for Detroit.
With all this, Carson said he needs little motivation to get mentally prepared to play Detroit.
"I was a little hurt they didn't pick me," Carson said. "I was upset that they didn't even really look at me."
The Red Wing management is looking now, and they are seeing a fat prize that got away.
"I think Jimmy Carson has been one of the best centers in the NHL in the last few weeks," King Coach Mike Murphy said.
While Carson and the Kings played one of their best games, the Red Wings played what Detroit Coach Jacques Demers thought was one of their worst.
The Red Wings were not the disciplined team that Demers has molded. Instead, the Kings pushed Detroit into submission.
The Red Wings scored first on a penalty shot by Mel Bridgman at 5:13 in the first period. King goaltender Rollie Melanson made the pad save, but when he relaxed, the puck slid into the net.
Sean McKenna and Steve Duchesne each scored to give the Kings a 2-1 lead at the end of the first period.
Carson scored at 8:19 in the second period, then Grant Ledyard scored off Carson's pass at 19:14.
With Wednesday night's exception, the games against Detroit have been close ones for the Kings. Close, and mean spirited. And this game had its usual barroom aspects.
The final count of penalty minutes was 118 minutes on 26 penalties.
The third period contained the bulk of the fighting, with 75 minutes doled out for one brawl. The several altercations that consumed several minutes could have served as a preview to Wrestlemania III, which rolls into town on Sunday.
Three Kings were involved--Jay Wells, Grant Ledyard and Williams--and three Red Wings--Gerard Gallant, Bob Probert and Lee Norwood.
In its final stages there were three altercations on the ice at once. Linesman Ron Asselstine chose to break up the Williams-Norwood fight. That fight had deteriorated to the point that each player was head-butting the other. It was an odd tactic for Williams. Norwood had his helmet on and Williams didn't.
As Asselstine tried to pry the two apart, Williams grew angry at the linesman and began tearing into Asselstine, following him around the ice.
After the players were pulled apart, the Red Wings, who were down 5-1, were left with a five-minute major power-play.
Williams was given a five-minute penalty for fighting, a five-minute match penalty, a 10-minute misconduct penalty, and, for his discussion with Asselstine, a game misconduct penalty. Norwood was given a five-minute penalty for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct.
Some history about Williams and Asselstine: In a game at the Forum last month, Williams had a run in with the linesman. Williams made reference, apparently erroneously, to Asselstine's membership in the Hell's Angels.
Asked what happened to start the fight and why he was assessed more penalties than Norwood, Williams said, "I ran into Harley Davidson out there," referring to Asselstine. "I thought we should have been penalized the same. He did the same thing to me as I did to him, exactly."
Asked if Asselstine said anything to him, Williams--who earned a deep cut high on his forehead--deadpanned: "I didn't think he could talk."
Williams' coach can talk, and did--to referee Bob Hall after the game. Murphy was angry at the game misconduct given to Williams, which means Williams will be suspended for two games.
"I'm going to have to send a tape to the league and try to change it," Murphy said. "I didn't understand his (Hall's) explanation to me. I won't go into details. He (Williams) didn't manhandle Asselstine, the way I saw it. I don't think he was out of control."
The Kings killed the ensuing power play, even scoring a short-handed goal from Bernie Nicholls. Robitaille had earlier scored at :39 in the third, his 42nd goal of the season.