Jimmy Howard, Red Wings rookie, stopped 51 of the Kings’ 52 shots (a save percentage of 98%) as the Red Wings beat the Kings 2-1 in Staples Center tonight. Jon Quick’s save percentage of 92% is hardly bad, but the end of the game had most Kings fans leaving the building upset.
Where did the Kings really go wrong after tying the game with less than 5 minutes to go in the 3rd? They played for the tie instead of the win. The Red Wings (having lost on Tuesday in Anaheim and being in 9th place in the standings even after their win over the Kings tonight) wanted to win more and in spite of the fact that the Kings outshot them 52-24, they deserved the win just for playing to the end of regulation. They scored both of their goals with less than 20 seconds left in the period in question. Their first goal was scored with under a second left in the first period and their game winning goal was scored at 19:42 of the 3rd period. It could be argued that either of those goals is a save a great goalie just has to make for his team. However, it’d be just as easy to argue that the players in front of Quick should play to the end of each period, which could have helped him a lot. I’m sure it was difficult for the Kings to have more shots than they’d had in one period in club history (27 in the 2nd) and not be able to score. They must have felt completely relieved when they finally got the puck past Howard. I’m sure they wish they had played a bit harder at the end of the game tonight rather than sitting back and enjoying the fact that they’d scored a goal and tied the game near the end of regulation for a bit too long. Scuderi and Kopitar did block shots for Quick, but Helm made his game winning goal look easy.
The Kings had won their last 3 games, but they couldn’t beat Howard and the Red Wings. Howard was clearly the number one star of the game and is also listed as the top performer in the NHL today. I have to agree with that one, too. It’s early for Kings fans to worry too much about their team not making the playoffs. I still think they’ll get there, but it’s definitely not going to be the easy ride some may have anticipated earlier in the season. The Red Wings are working their way back into the top 8 of the conference slowly, but surely. They’ve had a lot of injuries this season (they’ve lost 200 man games to injury so far) and Holmstrom broke his foot this morning in practice to add to their injury list, but in spite of that they’re managing to win games. Winning at any cost is something all great dynasties have mastered. Kings fans are clearly hoping to see their team bounce back from this loss to start another winning streak on Saturday as they host the St. Louis Blues for the first time since they let Andy Murray go.