Helm’s late goal pushes Red Wings past Kings

DETROIT  — At this time of year, there’s no room for excuses, only results.

Sure, the Red Wings could say that they were without goaltender Jimmy
Howard, captain Nick Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, Jonathan Ericsson, Todd
Bertuzzi, Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl and Patrick Eaves.

But they still had Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula.

Every time the Los Angeles Kings scored, that line answered. Zetterberg
finished with two goals and one assist and Filppula had one goal and two
assists.

It was Zetterberg’s first two-goal game since last March. He has nine
goals and 14 assists in his last 16 games. Fippula has six goals and
nine assists in his last 12 games.

Darren Helm broke the 3-3 tie with 1:13 left in the third to give the Wings a 4-3 victory over a desperate Kings team.

“Obviously it was a grind-out fest, every time you put your uniform on
you expect to win and yet some nights are more challenging than others
and this was one of them,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “We knew we
had a team that was real desperate and we had a lot of kids playing. We
hung in there, hung around, got good goaltending and won a game.”

The Western Conference is so tight that with 68 games played each, the
St. Louis Blues lead with 93 points, the Vancouver Canucks are second
with 91 and the Wings sit in fourth with 91. The Dallas Stars lead the
Pacific Division with 79 points and are in third in the conference.

The craziest part of the game was the fact that the Wings scored their
four goals on 15 shots. According to STATS LLC, the last time the Wings
had 15 or fewer shots was April 1, 2004, when they had 12 shots in a 3-2
win over the St. Louis Blues.

They had three shots in the first, five in the second and seven in the third. The Wings season average is 32.6 shots a game.

“We looked up, I don’t know when it was, we had four shots, I think it
was in the second,” Zetterberg said. “It’s very unusual for us but they
played hard, they played real tight and I don’t know how many shots they
ended up having but I don’t think they had a ton either so it was a
tight, hard-fought game and it was nice to win.”

The Kings, who normally average 29.9 shots a game, finished with 24. The
Kings are one point behind the San Jose Sharks for the eighth spot in
the Western Conference.

Los Angeles got goals from Jeff Carter, Justin Williams and Dwight King.

Both of Zetterberg’s goals came on nice passes from Filppula. The two
are starting to create the same kind of chemistry that Zetterberg has
with Datsyuk.

“We’ve been playing together for a while now and we’re getting to know
each other better and better,” Filppula said. “We know how we want to
play. Some nights things go the way we want.”

Filppula’s game-tying goal with 4:02 left in the third came on a beautiful pass from rookie Brendan Smith.

“I’ve kind of watched Kronner (Niklas Kronwall) do it all of the time,”
Smith said. “I think the forward forgot there was a line change and he
collapsed on (Jiri) Hudler a little bit and it gave me the middle of the
ice so I just yelled and Z put it right on my tape.

“I was able to get enough wood on it to make a pass to Fil backdoor when
I saw him out of the corner of my eye. Obviously you have to give him
credit, because he had to bury that, too, and put it right under the
bar, which was pretty impressive.”

Helm’s goal was also impressive because he scored from right in front of
the crease with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty draped all over him.

“It started with the entire shift, we controlled the puck, kept it in
the zone, move it around and were cycling it pretty well,” Helm said.
“I saw Mule take a look and we made eye contact and I knew
that I just had to get to the net and he made a nice pass. It was just a
strong play on the stick and it went in.”

Goaltender Joey MacDonald may not have had his best game but he saved
his best for last, when the Kings had a power play in the last minute of
the game.

“He gassed their second goal but what I found about him is it doesn’t
affect him at all, he just plays, which is really good,” Babcock said.
“Everyone’s going to make a mistake. Just keep playing. He made a couple
of big saves at the end.”

It does not get any easier as the Wings headed immediately to Nashville
for Saturday night’s game. The Predators are just six points behind the
Wings.