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Helm's goal, Howard's heroics lift Wings over Kings

by John Kreiser

Jimmy Howard and Darren Helm stole two points from the Los Angeles Kings.

Howard made 51 saves, 27 of them in the second period, and Helm scored with 17.3 seconds left in regulation to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 victory over the Kings on Thursday night.

Howard stopped the first 51 shots he faced, but was beaten on the 52nd when Ryan Smyth swatted Dustin Brown's power-play pass out of the air and into the net with 4:22 left in regulation.

"When Howie plays like that, we want him to get that shutout. We kind of let him down," Helm said. "We didn't give him a whole lot of support in the third period. He played unbelievable again."

However, Smyth's goal was the last shot Howard faced. The Wings regrouped and won it when Helm chased down a dump-in by Kris Draper in the corner to the left of Jonathan Quick, bulled past Sean O'Donnell toward the crease and stuffed the puck through Quick's pads as he went across the front of the net.

"It was just a good battle along the boards," Helm said of his seventh goal of the season. "I got the puck and was able to spin off. There was a big hole to the net, and I just took it there."

Despite being outshot 52-24, the Wings improved their record against Los Angeles to 22-2 in their last 24 meetings. Detroit has won its last six games against the Kings and the last five at the StaplesCenter, where they are 11-1-0 in their last 12 visits.

Before Smyth's goal, Howard and the Wings nearly made Dan Cleary's first-period power-play goal stand up for the win.

Cleary, returning from a separated shoulder that cost him 12 games, tapped in a rebound with :00.2 left in the opening period, four seconds after a power play expired. Quick stopped Brian Rafalski from the right circle and got a pad on Valtteri Filppula's rebound try, but the puck lay in the crease for Cleary, who nudged it over the goal line an instant before the green light came on to signify the end of the period.

Howard, who has taken the starting job away from Chris Osgood, then took over.

After stopping all 10 shots he faced in the first period, Howard was unbelievable in the second, when the Kings outshot Detroit 27-6 -- setting a team record for shots in a period.

He helped the Wings survive a pair of Los Angeles power plays -- stopping a dozen shots in the final 2 1/2 minutes, many of which came after Todd Bertuzzi took a hooking penalty with 2:14 remaining in the period.

"Howard was unbelievable," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "We had a lot of play around the net. You have to give their goaltender a ton of credit. He bounced back after a game in Anaheim the other night (a 4-1 loss) that I'm sure he wasn't real pleased with and shut us down tonight."

Murray said the night-long barrage of shots was no accident.

"We want to keep shooting. We're encouraging that," Murray said. "It's a shot mentality. That's what we've been pushing from the start of the year -- get more pucks to the net. If you end up with 50-plus shots on goal like tonight, that's a great thing.

"You're not looking to score on 50 percent of the, You're just trying to get a couple of goals tonight. There are games where the goaltender is the difference in the game, and it so happened that was the case here tonight."

The Kings kept firing away in the third and were finally rewarded after Bertuzzi was called for hooking with 4:41 remaining. Jarrett Stoll's blast from the slot missed the net, but the rebound came out to Brown in the left circle. He fluttered a pass that Smyth knocked out of the air and into the net for his 13th goal of the season.

"It was a little disappointing," Howard said. "But we found a way to get two points. Helmer made a great play taking the puck to the net and found a way to slide it home for us."

Helm's goal left the Kings wondering how they managed to dominate play from start to finish but go home empty-handed.

"Tonight was the result of a hot goalie," Brown said. "Some nights you run into a hot goalie, they get a timely goal and you wonder how it happened."

Material from team media was used in this report

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