The Red Wings went out west to face the Kings and potted six goals against Jonathan Quick on Monday night, thanks in large part to the work of the fourth liners Darren Helm and Drew Miller.
The Kings got out to the early 1-0 lead at 4:09 of the first period when Michal Handzus scored a power play goal. Handzus shot the puck from right in front of Jimmy Howard and it was fluttering around in the air behind Howard. Howard turned to try and smack the puck out of harm's way, but ended up throwing it into his own net while Darren Helm was in the box.
The Wings responded with two goals in quick succession as Jonathan Quick allowed a soft goal to Drew Miller at 6:37 and Dan Cleary deflected a shot from Jiri Hudler past Quick at 7:07. After sitting in what looked like another dangerous 1-0 hole, the Red Wings were out in front very quickly.
Jarrett Stoll took a high sticking penalty late in the first period and was in the box when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom scored on a slapshot from the blue line. The first period started off poorly for the Wings, but after the Handzus goal, they did nothing but dominate the play.
Follow the jump to see how the rest of the game played out.
The Red Wings added another late period power play goal as Pavel Datsyuk ripped a shot to the top corner over Quick's gloveside for a 4-1 lead. With the distance from the goal, the quick release from the stick and the accuracy from Datsyuk, the Kings' netminder had little chance of stopping Datsyuk's 19th goal of the season.
Just 15 seconds into the third period, Jiri Hudler took a penalty for hooking and was in the box. The Kings had a good opportunity to cut the lead in half on the man advantage but Darren Helm had other plans. Helm poked a puck loose along the boards and then used his exceptional speed to create a scoring chance. Helm finished at the other end and scored a shorthanded goal for the Wings to push it to a 5-1 lead.
Drew Miller, apparently angry from sitting out against the Sabres and brother Ryan, scored his second of the game at 5:53 of the third by batting a puck out of mid-air. Miller's goal spelled the end of the night for Quick and Jonathan Bernier came in to relieve him.
Jiri Hudler pushed that 6-1 lead to 7-1 right after the Red Wings had ended a power play chance. The Kings were still scrambling to recover after a Kyle Clifford tripping penalty (drawn by Jakub Kindl) when Kindl passed the puck cross-ice to Hudler. Hudler took all the time in the world settling the puck down before slamming home a slapshot to the top-shelf. In his last 11 games, Jiri Hudler now has 14 points.
The Kings ended up getting a trio of goals from Dustin Brown, Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson late in the game, but the game was pretty much decided at that point.
The Red Wings only managed 5 shots on goal in the 3rd period but scored 3 goals. They were 2 of 4 on the power play tonight and scored a shorthanded goal as well. The only bad part of the night was giving up the three late goals to the Kings but I guess you can't argue too much with a 7-4 win over a Western Conference foe.
The Red Wings improved to 39-18-6 with 84 points and sit only 3 back of Vancouver for 1st in the Western Conference. The next game is on Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks.
:: Video Highlights ::
:: Three points for discussion ::
- Jiri Hudler's success: hinging on the play of Pavel Datsyuk or is he finally remembering how to play hockey?
- How impressive is a win like this over the Kings by a score of 7-4 WITHOUT Johan Franzen and Brian Rafalski? To me, it's a little weird when you look back at this win. Drew Miller likely wouldn't be in the line-up if Franzen had made the trip to LA. Jakub Kindl likely wouldn't have started if Rafalski's back wasn't acting up. Yet, those two guys had great games when given an opportunity to fill in. Further proof of why this team is so easy to love.
- I felt bad for Jimmy Howard in this game. Yeah, he got win 31 of the season on the day he signed a new contract, but he played really well all game yet still has a 4 spot hung on him. Now those that watched the game will know that it was inconsequential to the outcome as the game was already in the books more or less but you hate to see the defense give up some of those opportunities as well.