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Detroit Red Wings' 4-1 victory ends L.A. Kings' winning streak

'We were just chasing the puck around the whole time,' Kings center Anze Kopitar says after L.A. loses, 4-1, to the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center, snapping a three-game winning streak.

November 19, 2011|By Helene Elliott
  • Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard makes a glove save on a penalty shot by Kings center Anze Kopitar in the second period Saturday at Staples Center.
Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard makes a glove save on a penalty shot by… (Christine Cotter / Associated…)

One team on the ice at Staples Center on Saturday looked old, slow and fumble-fingered — and it wasn't the Detroit Red Wings.

The Kings spent too much time watching the Red Wings work their magic with the puck and demonstrate that their rumored demise is merely opponents' wishful thinking. Detroit was sharp and sure in a 4-1 victory that ended the Kings' three-game winning streak and delighted a crowd dominated by jerseys featuring the famed winged wheel.

"Tonight it wasn't good," said Kings center Anze Kopitar, whose penalty-shot attempt died in Jimmy Howard's glove at 11:06 of the second period while the Kings trailed, 2-1.

"We didn't make any plays. At least that's what it seemed. We were just chasing the puck around the whole time, and with a team like that, it's obviously tough to do. You pretty much have no chance if they have the puck all the time."

On the rare occasions Kopitar had the puck, at least he tried to create something: He was credited with six of the Kings' 24 shots. Jack Johnson had none. Johnson's defense partner, Drew Doughty, had one. Winger Simon Gagne, the team's third-leading goal scorer, had no shots.

Detroit had 38 to match the Kings' season-high in shots by an opponent, duplicating the Ducks' shot total Thursday. Pavel Datsyuk scored twice and Tomas Holmstrom and Johan Franzen each recorded two assists as the Red Wings ended a five-game road losing streak.

"They might be a little bit older. They're not slow, definitely. It's the furthest thing from the truth," Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick said. "They're a good team. They have a lot of skill. They get on you quick on the forecheck, and they force you to make mistakes, and then they capitalize.

"They played a good 60 tonight, and they were just better than us."

The Kings struck first, on a short-handed goal by Mike Richards at 6:37 of the first period, a nifty play in which he sped up ice and beat Howard on a backhander. He became the first King to score a short-handed goal in two straight games since Ziggy Palffy managed that feat on March 29 and March 31 of 2001.

That lead vanished 37 seconds later, after Nicklas Lidstrom's shot hit Holmstrom and the rebound bounced to Datsyuk, who didn't miss. "That was huge," Doughty said. "It kind of gave the momentum back to them."

Detroit took the lead at 7:08 of the second period on a one-timer by Niklas Kronwall from the right side of the slot off a clever pass from Holmstrom, but the Kings had a chance to pull even after Kopitar was fouled from behind by Detroit's Brad Stuart. Kopitar's backhander was snared by Howard, pretty much the Kings' last legitimate scoring chance. "This is our best game we've played in a while," Howard said.

Justin Abdelkader got past Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi and scored off a two-on-one at 15:38 of the second period to make it 3-1, and Datsyuk scored after a turnover to complete the scoring at 15:06 of the third.

"These guys play their system really well. As gifted as they are, as good as they are offensively, they're a really good defensive team," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "That's where they get all their chances from, kind of turning pucks over in the neutral zone and making people pay for their mistakes, and that's what they did tonight."

The Red Wings proved they're not over the hill. The Kings are still climbing the hill they've been trying to scale for decades. They're as streaky as they were last season, a pattern they hoped to avoid with a supposedly deeper team.

Coach Terry Murray changed some bodies around in the late stages but got no sparks. "We were chasing the game," he said, knowing there's no chance of joy or victory in that.

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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