There's something about being on the road that brings out the best in the Detroit Red Wings.
Drew Miller scored twice, Darren Helm added a shorthanded goal in the third period, and the Wings rolled to their sixth straight road victory, 7-4 against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night at the Staples Center.
"I have no idea," Helm responded when asked what the key has been to Detroit's success on the road. "We're finding ways to win on the road. Tonight, I think we just played a solid road game. I wish we could do the same at home, but right now we're happy to be on the road. That's where we're having a lot of success."
Jimmy Howard made 32 saves as the Red Wings pulled away with seven consecutive goals, including three in the first period. The victory came just hours after Howard signed a two-year extension with the club. The new deal will pay Howard $2.25 million per season.
"It's good … it's where I want to be," Howard said. "It's a great organization and I've got a lot of great friends in the room. It's a great situation."
Michal Handzus scored in the opening minutes for the Kings, who didn't score again until captain Dustin Brown's goal cut Detroit's lead to five goals with 7:34 to play.
A few hours after acquiring goal-scoring forward Dustin Penner in a trade with Edmonton, the Kings put on their worst performance in over a month.
Wayne Simmonds and Brad Richardson scored in the final 65 seconds for the Kings, but Jonathan Quick gave up six goals on 23 shots before getting pulled with 14 minutes left. The flop was a surprise for Los Angeles, which had lost in regulation just once since Jan. 20 while winning 11 of its past 15.
"Sometimes when you have a lead like that, you find yourself playing kind of complacent," Helm said. "I think that's what we did tonight. We were up and just kind of sat back. They were able to put a couple of nice goals together."
The Kings still haven't lost by more than three goals all season, but they struggled mightily against one of the four teams ahead of them in the conference standings.
The Red Wings got a measure of revenge for a 5-0 home loss to Los Angeles on Dec. 13, their fourth straight loss to the Kings. They also did it without leading goal-scorer Johan Franzen, who's home with his wife for the expected birth of their first child.
Detroit began its final lengthy road trip of the season in Buffalo on Saturday, and will visit all three California teams before wrapping up in Phoenix. With their usual cheering sections behind them at every stop, the Wings haven't lost on the road since Feb. 5.
"That's a good hockey club," Kings coach Terry Murray said of Detroit. "They're on a tough trip right now. They're going to be very busy, and they're coming to play. That's a veteran team that knows how to do things right at a critical time of the year. They scored goals at the right time and gave us a real lesson in how to come and be ready."
The Kings scored just 4:09 into the first period when Handzus corralled a rebound off the back boards and flipped it over Howard's pad during a power play, but the Red Wings quickly took charge.
After Miller scored his first goal in three weeks on a stoppable shot, Cleary followed 30 seconds later with an artful deflection in front for his 22nd goal. Lidstrom scored a power-play goal late in the period.
"We just rolled four lines from start to finish and we were able to get a win, so that's important," Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
Los Angeles generated 25 shots in the first two periods, but couldn't connect. Detroit went up 4-1 with 41.2 seconds left in the second period when Datsyuk collected a puck at the blue line, skated in unimpeded and fired an expertly placed shot over Quick's glove for his 19th goal.
Helm scored after Drew Doughty failed to control a puck at the point during a power play, delighting the sizable contingent of Red Wings fans and sending many Kings fans to the exits with 18 minutes left.
After Miller and Hudler put the Wings up 7-1, Brown finally answered for the Kings to sarcastic cheers from the crowd.
"Every mistake, they're going to score," Handzus said of the Wings. "We made mistakes that we shouldn't have. It's our mental errors. I think we need to clean that up a little bit. Mistakes against great teams, they're going to cost you."
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.