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Friday, March 9, 2012
Kings: Late lead coughed up in loss to Red Wings

By Dan Arritt

Detroit Red Wings 4, Kings 3

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Holding a one-goal lead with just over four minutes remaining against an injury-depleted team who was struggling just to gets shots on net, the Kings gave away the victory Friday night and a chance to move into the top eight in the Western Conference standings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

THE STAT: The Kings lost in regulation for the first time in 87 games when leading after the second period.

TURNING POINT: The Kings had taken their third lead of the game, 3-2, on a goal by rookie forward Dwight King with 5:54 remaining in the game, but they gave that one away too, as Valterri Filppula scored just under two minutes later. The Red Wings then took their first lead with 1:13 left when Johan Franzen passed to Darren Helm in front of the net and he scored Detroit’s fourth goal of the game on just their 15th shot on goal.

HOT: Never mind that Kings right wing Dustin Brown extended his points streak to seven games, or the Kings did not allow a shot on goal on three Detroit power plays to extend their streak of penalty kills to 25, if this loss doesn’t bring out the fire in Kings coach Darryl Sutter, nothing will. The Kings looked as if they were finally putting together a playoff push after winning their third straight high-scoring game Tuesday in Nashville, but then lost to the league’s worst team Thursday night in Columbus and now blew this late lead with so much on the line.

NOT: Let’s start with the defense pair of Rob Scuderi and Drew Doughty. Scuderi, an eight-year veteran with a Stanley Cup championship on his resume, was on the ice for all four goals by the Red Wings, tying his career high with a minus-4 rating. The last time he turned in a similar dud was December 2007. Doughty, who held out all of training camp while his agent insisted he become the highest-paid player on the Kings, matched his career high with a minus-3 rating. He let Helm get inside position on the game-winning goal, and had a bad turnover on a power play earlier in the third period that Detroit nearly turned into a short-handed goal. If the uninspired play of the Kings this season doesn’t get general manager Dean Lombardi fired, his decision to give a one-year wonder defenseman all that money surely will.

GOOD MOVE: Kings forward Jeff Carter was one of the few Kings who showed up to play. He scored a power-play goal 7:29 into the game to give the Kings a 1-0 lead and some much-needed momentum after their effort against the Blue Jackets the night before. After the Kings blew two one-goal leads, Carter made a nice no-look shot on goal that appeared to surprise Detroit goalie Joey MacDonald, who left a sweet rebound for King to lift into the net.

BAD MOVE: What was Mike Richards thinking? The Kings were clinging to their final one-goal lead in the waning minutes, he had the puck on his stick in the defensive zone with room to clear and instead dumped it back to Scuderi, who gave it away to the Red Wings under pressure. Detroit then went into attack mode, as Brendan Smith passed to a Henrik Zetterberg charging toward the slot. Zetterberg immediately dumped it off to Filppula on the opposite post and he scored the tying goal. It’s bad enough that Richards has gone 23 straight games without scoring a goal, but passing the puck the wrong direction in that situation is just plain wrong.

NOTABLE: Detroit played without several key players, most notably leading points scorer Pavel Datsyuk, out since getting struck on the knee with a puck Feb. 25, No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard, who suffered a strained groin Sunday in a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, who has been battling a deep ankle bone bruise. They also didn’t have the services of left wing Justin Abdelkader, who came down with flu, right wing Todd Bertuzzi (groin) and defensemen Jonathan Ericsson (broken wrist) and Jakub Kindl (upper body) …. For the first time in NHL history, two Slovenian players faced off against each other, Anze Kopitar of the Kings and Jan Mursak of the Red Wings … The 15 shots on goal was the fewest taken by the Red Wings this season and the fewest allowed by the Kings.

UP NEXT:  Sunday at Chicago Blackhawks, 4 p.m. PT.