Backed by Jimmy Howard’s strong performance in net, the Detroit Red Wings got a thrilling win over the Los Angeles Kings, giving them three consecutive wins, a season high. Howard was stellar in net, and stopped 45 shots as the Wings got the 3-2 victory. A goal by Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson with under five seconds left in regulation capped off an exciting final minute of the game at Joe Louis Arena.
The Red Wings never trailed in the game, and took an early lead on a power play goal by Pavel Datsyuk. They went up 2-1 on Damien Brunner’s sixth goal of the season, but the Kings got on the board minutes later when Anze Kopitar scored his fourth goal of the season. The second period saw the Kings test Howard 23 times, but he was up to the task and despite only managing nine shots of their own, the Wings made it to the third period still leading by a one-goal margin. The score would stay that way until the final minute of play, when Alec Martinez got the puck past Howard. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick had been pulled for the extra attacker and was promptly returned as the game looked to be headed to overtime. The Red Wings showed tremendous poise and rallied to put pressure in the Kings’ end, resulting in Ericsson’s goal. While all three goal scorers had their moment in the spotlight, the day belonged to Howard, who was playing in a matinee game for the second straight day.
Howard has now started 11 of the Red Wings’ 12 games, and has six wins. After getting the night off on Thursday, he has come up with two of the biggest wins of the season so far, shutting down a young Edmonton Oilers team that had eight power play chances on Saturday, and looking even better today while facing a season-high 47 shots. He has been one of the most overworked goaltenders in the league early on in the season, but the rest this week seems to have rejuvenated him. With rookie Petr Mrazek able to fill in currently, and Jonas Gustavsson and Joey MacDonald getting closer to full strength, Howard is in a much better position moving forward. If he continues to play the way he did this weekend, the Red Wings should be in very good shape moving forward as well.