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With Dustin Brown suspended, Kings are beaten in Detroit, 3-1

The Kings captain sits outs after drawing a two-game suspension for an elbow to the head of Minnesota's Jason Pominville on Tuesday. The Kings lose their sixth consecutive road game.

April 24, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Pavel Datsyuk controls the puck in the Red Wings end during the Kings' 3-1 loss to Detroit on Wednesday.
Pavel Datsyuk controls the puck in the Red Wings end during the Kings'… (Carlos Osorio / Associated…)

DETROIT — One streak of 314 consecutive games played ended and another one, seemingly headed for a meek and mild ending, suddenly caught another wind.

Yes, you could make a connection between the two developments at Joe Louis Arena.

On Wednesday, Kings captain Dustin Brown was assessed a two-game suspension by the NHL for an elbow to the head of Minnesota's Jason Pominville, ending Brown's streak of 314 games played.

BOX SCORE: Red Wings 3, Kings 1

Hours later, his teammates went out and lost their sixth straight road game as the Red Wings beat the Kings, 3-1, giving fresh hope to Detroit's postseason chances and the possibility their playoff run could extend to 22 straight seasons. They moved past Columbus into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, leading the Blue Jackets by a point.

The Red Wings, trailing 1-0, scored three unanswered goals, including two in the third period. Their final goal, scored by Johan Franzen on the power play with 6 minutes 26 seconds left, came when Brown was doing an interview with three reporters outside the Kings' dressing room.

It was the first suspension in Brown's playing career and the NHL noted that fact in handing down the ruling but also took into account that Pominville left the game Tuesday with an injury and did not return. The Wild has not provided an update on his condition.

Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, said that while counter-hits can often occur in the game, in this case, Brown extended his elbow "directly into Pominville's face causing an injury" and that it was not an "inadvertent elbow caused by Pominville's sudden movement."

Brown said he was "disappointed" by the decision and was asked if he thought the two-game suspension was overly harsh. He will miss the regular-season finale Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center, with a possible chance to grab home-ice advantage in the playoffs hanging in the balance.

"Who knows? They've got to deal with a lot of different scenarios," said Brown, who loses $34,324.32 in salary because of the suspension. "I think no games would have been better, but I think every player will say that.

"… It's disappointing not to be playing in these games tonight and on Saturday, especially when they mean so much for home ice. At the end of the day, I'll be back for Game 1. As a player, as a team, that's when the fun really begins."

Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, before the game in Detroit: "Brendan played the game ... and he played his off-wing the very same way Brownie played, if you think about it. He totally understands that too, but ultimately he's the guy making the decision. That's the way it goes."

Brown's usual linemates, center Anze Kopitar and forward Justin Williams, went pointless, combining for three shots on goal. The Kings goal came from the hard-working line of Kyle Clifford, Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis. Clifford scored at 5:28 of the second period to make it, 1-0, on a strong second effort in front and the assists went to Lewis and Stoll.

"You don't replace Brownie in your lineup," Sutter said. "But you know what, I look at it the other way: He's got two days, two games off. Get some rest for the playoffs."

Kopitar, who has not scored since March 25, admitted it felt unusual to play without Brown. Brown thought that he had missed perhaps six games in his career, most of which were when his children were born. Kopitar missed the first game of this season when he was recovering from a knee injury.

"It's been a while since we didn't play together," Kopitar said. "It's a little strange, but you pretty much have to work with what you've got. Did we miss him? Yeah, he's one of our top players and leaders on the team."

Anticipating the suspension, the Kings, earlier in the day, recalled forward Tyler Toffolli from their American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H. He played against the Red Wings but left wing Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch. "He was tired last night [in Minnesota], so I was going to assume he'd be tired tonight," said Sutter.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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