The Detroit Red Wings held off a late surge by the Los Angeles Kings to pick up a 4-2 victory Saturday night, moving them into sole position of the top spot in the NHL standings. The Red Wings also clinched the Central Division Championship, becoming the first Western Conference team to officially make the playoffs.
Three shots off the Los Angeles goalposts helped keep the Red Wings off the scoreboard in the first period and the Kings got the first goal of the game from Alexander Frolov on the power play at 4:25 of the opening frame. Frolov stuffed a backhander through Detroit goalie Curtis Joseph‘s pads to put the Kings up by one.
Williams scored twice early in the second to put the Red Wings in the lead. Just 1:30 into the middle period, Williams bounced a wraparound attempt off the pad of Los Angeles netminder Cristobal Huet and into the net to even the game at a goal apiece.
At 5:24, Williams fired a shot from the right faceoff circle that deflected off a LA defender to give the Wings the lead.
Williams’ line with Yzerman and Ray Whitney put Detroit up by two goals with 2:54 remaining in the second. A tic-tac-toe passing play from Williams to Yzerman to Whitney left Whitney with the puck at the top of the crease. After his first shot was stopped, Whitney put the rebound past Huet to make the score 3-1.
Los Angeles pulled out all the stops late in the game. With 4:30 remaining in regulation and two Red Wings in the penalty box, Huet went to the Kings’ bench for the extra attacker. Detroit killed off the six-on-three but before the second penalty was over, former Red Wing Luc Robitaille put a shot from the side of the crease over the sprawled Joseph to put the Kings within a goal.
Even with the extra attacker for most of the rest of the game, the Kings were unable to score the tying goal and with 12 seconds remaining Nicklas Lidstrom scored into the empty net to seal the Detroit victory.
Detroit was held scoreless in their three power play attempts while the Kings scored twice on six chances.
Joseph stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings, while Huet made 20 saves on 23 shots against.
The Red Wings are next in action Sunday night. They face former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the third game of their five-game road trip.
Robitaille’s goal put him into a tie for first place in all-time scoring for left wings.