The Detroit Red Wings leaned on one of their only healthy stars to get a much-needed win.
Henrik Zetterberg scored twice and assisted on Valtteri Filppula’s tying goal with 4:02 left, then Darren Helm scored with 1:13 remaining to give the banged-up Red Wings to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday night.
”You’d like to produce when your big guys are out,” Zetterberg said.
Detroit had lost five of seven to slip behind Western Conference and Central Division-leading St. Louis.
The Red Wings were missing injured All-Stars Pavel Datsyuk and Jimmy Howard, seven-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, forwards Todd Bertuzzi and Justin Abdelkader along with defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl.
”You have to give credit to the farm team,” Zetterberg said. ”When we need them, they’re ready to play.”
With a several called-up prospects from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit struggled until the final minutes.
It took the Red Wings about 10 minutes in each of the first periods to get a shot. They finished with just 15 shots for their lowest total since April 1, 2004, according to STATS, LLC, in a 3-2 win over St. Louis
Gustav Nyquist, playing in his sixth NHL game, had an assist on the winning goal that was scored by Helm in front of the net while engaged with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Brendan Smith, in his eighth game in the league, took Zetterberg’s pass and set up Filppula on the late tying goal.
”Coach (Mike) Babcock told us these are must-wins,” Smith said.
Losses loom even larger for Los Angeles, which has dropped two straight after winning four or five in a race for one of the final spots in the Western Conference playoffs.
”What we’ve got to do is not get down and look ahead,” Justin Williams said. ”We’ve got 14 games left.”
The Kings had their chances, including with 5:54 left when Dwight King put them ahead 3-2, but couldn’t beat a shorthanded team.
”When you keep shots down like that and you score three goals, you should win,” Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said.
Jonathan Quick, though, stopped just 11 shots for the Kings.
”Every game has its own challenges,” Quick said. ”Ones where you don’t see as many shots, it’s more mentally challenging.”
Los Angeles pulled Quick to have an extra skater and had a 6-on-4 advantage on a power play with 23.2 seconds left and a faceoff in the Detroit end. The Kings got the puck, but Joey MacDonald stopped Jeff Carter’s shot with 15.2 seconds left and they could not get another shot on net.
”Blew that game,” Dustin Brown said. ”We played a good game and we let it get away.”
MacDonald made 21 saves for the Red Wings.
Los Angeles had twice as many shots as the Red Wings through two periods, but allowed Zetterberg to tie it with goals late in the first and second periods on two of their eight shots.
Carter, who assisted on King’s goal, put the Kings ahead 1-0 on a power play 7:29 into the game, and Justin Williams put them ahead 2-1 with 2:19 left in the first period.
Zetterberg made the most of his opportunities, scoring his 17th and 18th goals on two of his first four shots to score more than once in a game for the first time since March 16, 2011.
NOTES: Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Datsyuk (right knee), Howard (groin) and Bertuzzi (groin) are expected to play at some point during next week’s three-game trip in California; Kindl (upper body) is a week or two away from returning and Ericsson (left) wrist will be out for another two to three weeks. Abdelkader was scratched with the flu. … The Kings had won three of their last four in Detroit.