A third period rally after a ho-hum first and second period weren’t enough to save the Red Wings, and they went down to the Los Angeles Kings, 3-0.
Faceoffs are a main key to creating scoring chances, and the Kings were really able to dominate the Red Wings on that skill. Detroit’s problems were compounded late in the first period when they had to kill off twenty-six seconds of a five-on-three penalty from overlapping calls to Igor Larionov and Mathieu Dandenault. The penalty killers kept organized and didn’t let the Kings set up any quality shots, and Dominik Hasek stopped the shots which did get through to the net. Hasek and Kings’ goalie Felix Potvin each stopped six shots in the first.
Los Angeles dominated defensively in the second period, turning small defensive mistakes and faceoff losses by the Red Wings into scoring chances. Hasek continued to be huge, turning all shots aside until only 6:41 was remaining in the period. Cliff Ronning passed the puck from the boards across to Aaron Miller at the blue line, and Miller fired hard on net. Hasek came out to challenge the shot, but the puck got past him and bounced off each goalpost before settling into the net.
The Kings scored again before the end of the period. Adam Deadmarsh shook off Sean Avery at the blue line, causing a two-on-one, then passed across to Jason Allison going to the net. Allison flipped the puck in past Hasek.
The Red Wings tried to come back hard in the third period, but this time it was Potvin’s turn to shine. Potvin played deep in his net and stopped every shot the Wings could throw at him. A lost faceoff in Detroit’s zone wound up putting Los Angeles ahead for good. The Kings got control of the puck, and Allison got the puck to Kelly Buchberger, who squeezed between Larionov and Brett Hull to put the puck into the net.
Shots were thirty-one to twenty-eight in Detroit’s favor. Half of the Wings’ shots on net came in the third period. The Red Wings will end their West Coast road trip on Saturday night, when they face the Pacific Division-leading San Jose Sharks.
Tonight’s wins by Los Angeles over Detroit and San Jose over Phoenix leave LA and Phoenix tied for fifth place in the Western Conference. This means that if the playoffs started today, the first round matchups would be Detroit against Edmonton, Colorado against St. Louis, San Jose against Los Angeles, and Chicago against Phoenix.