LOS ANGELES -- Teams usually don't dwell on past games. They put them in their rear view mirror and talk about the next game.
But the Los Angeles Kings acknowledged that a tough 4-3 loss last Friday to the Detroit Red Wings in which they blew a late lead was still on their minds. For them, Tuesday night represented a do-over -- and this time, they got it right.
L.A. led wire-to-wire and avoided another collapse in a 5-2 victory at Staples Center. The Kings matched San Jose, Calgary and Colorado with 78 points.
They also got a measure of revenge -- four days earlier, the Kings blew a 3-2 lead with fewer than six minutes remaining and walked out of Joe Louis Arena with nothing -- the only time in 24 games this season that they have lost when scoring three goals or more goals. On Tuesday they took leads of 2-0 and 3-1 and poured in two third-period goals.
"That was a pretty crushing defeat we had in Detroit, given the circumstance," said captain Dustin Brown, who had two assists to match a career-high nine-game points streak.
"I think the key to this game was maybe weathering their storm in the second. They had some good pressure on us and some good chances, and we found a way to play even through the second period and that's huge against a team like that."
Asked if last Friday's loss lingered in his mind, Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, "We lost by one because we weren't perfect. It doesn't matter. Detroit's got an experienced team. They're never out of it and you've got to be right on top of it."
Injury-depleted Detroit missed a chance to gain a point on Central Division-leading St. Louis, which lost 4-3 in a shootout to Chicago. The Wings' special teams continued to struggle -- Detroit went scoreless on four power plays, including a two-man advantage early in the third period, to extend its drought to 0-for-24 over the past six games. The Red Wings also surrendered a shorthanded goal.
Jimmy Howard had allowed three goals in two previous meetings this season against the Kings but he allowed three in the first 31 minutes Tuesday.
Howard returned to the lineup after missing three games with a groin injury and couldn't really be faulted much, but coach Mike Babcock labeled his performance "not good enough." Howard shouldered much of the blame.
"There were a lot of things I thought I could have done better," Howard said. "At the same time, it was my first game back in a week and a half so I have just got to continue to work hard in practice and get the rhythm back and feeling back of being out there. I thought the game was extremely fast in front of me so I have to find a way to slow it down until I get back to the game speed of things."
Howard probably could not have done much on L.A.'s third goal.
Drew Doughty lifted a wrist shot from just inside the blue line that hit a Detroit player and found the net through traffic for a 3-1 lead at 10:57 of the second period.
Babcock said his team offered little resistance to L.A.'s forecheck and grinding style of play and thought the game was lost in the second period.
"You're not going to win with the approach that we had tonight," Babcock said. "I thought we had a really good start to the second period, and as soon as they scored a goal we got deflated and that was it for us. I didn't think we were competitive enough tonight."
The Red Wings were all over the Kings to start the second, and their top line continued to produce against the Kings. Jiri Hudler took Henrik Zetterberg's shot-pass off his skate and shot it past Jonathan Quick to pull Detroit to 2-1.
The line of Zetterberg, Hudler and Valtteri Filppula has four goals in the past two meetings against L.A.
But Detroit's special teams broke down in the first period when the Wings allowed their ninth shorthanded goal this season.
With Dustin Penner in the box for holding, Brown grabbed the puck in the defensive zone and got it to Anze Kopitar on the right side. Kopitar skated down ice and sent a wrist shot that beat Howard for his 21st goal.
"It's always a momentum changer when it's shorthanded," Brown said. "He made a pretty good shot."
L.A. owned the first 15 minutes of the game – it outshot Detroit 9-1 at one point - and its pressure paid off early. Justin Williams pushed a rebound through under Howard in front of the net for his fourth goal in five games.
The Kings improved to 82-0-6 in their last 88 games when leading after two periods.
1 - 0 LAK
2 - 0 LAK
2 - 1 LAK