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Howard, Ericsson lead Wings past Kings in thriller @NHLdotcom

Jimmy Howard did it all for the first 59 minutes Sunday afternoon.

After the Los Angeles Kings struck in the final minute to even the score, the Detroit Red Wings goaltender needed a little help from Jonathan Ericsson to ensure his team a victory.

Ericsson scored with 4.5 seconds remaining and Howard made 45 saves as the Red Wings pulled off a thrilling 3-2 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champions in front of a big crowd at Joe Louis Arena and a national-TV audience.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty knocked the puck off the boards in an attempted clear, but Ericsson intercepted it and took a shot that trickled through Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and into the net.

"That's just a great play by Big E throwing it on net," Howard said. "You never know what can happen when you put the puck on net."

Alec Martinez had tied it for Los Angeles with 52.8 seconds left. Shortly after Quick left the net for an extra attacker, Martinez got to a loose puck in front of Howard after a Kyle Clifford shot, moved across the crease and deposited his first goal of the season into the right side of the net.

Up until that point, all the scoring had come in the first period. Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner scored for the Red Wings, while Anze Kopitar answered for the Kings.

Los Angeles lost its second in a row and fell to 3-5-2, tied for the fewest points in the Western Conference.

"That was our best game of the year," Kopitar said. "Playing like that, you're going to win more times than not."

With injuries to veteran goalies Jonas Gustavsson and Joey MacDonald, the Red Wings have started Howard in 11 of their 12 games this season, including a back-to-back this weekend. Petr Mrazek started in St. Louis on Thursday, giving Howard his only respite.

"I was seeing the puck well right from the start," said Howard, who stopped 23 of 24 shots in a 2-1 win Saturday over Edmonton. "We had a good game yesterday, I was just trying to build on it."

Howard made 37 saves in the first two periods alone -- the 38 shots were more than the Red Wings had allowed in any full game this season. In between Howard standing on his head, his teammates built him a lead. The scoring started after a Justin Williams interference penalty put Detroit on its first power play of the game.

Datsyuk took a pass from Henrik Zetterberg going over the Los Angeles blue line, split a pair of Kings defenders while kicking the puck from his skate to his stick, and then roofed the puck over Quick at 5:44 for a power-play goal and a 1-0 lead.

Howard continued to hold the fort, making a strong pad stop on Dustin Brown, and at the other end Brunner doubled the lead at 17:28 with a shot from the right circle for the dynamic rookie's sixth goal.

"(Brunner) shoots the puck like very few guys, and he's using that to his advantage and he's playing really well for us," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.

Kopitar got one back for the Kings with just 40.3 seconds left in the period, getting to the front of the net and converting the rebound of a point shot by Rob Scuderi.

Howard didn't give them anything else through the first 40 minutes, however.

"If you watched that game, I think you'd say Howie stole that one for us, no doubt about that," Kronwall said.

Howard's career-best game for saves also came against the Kings in Los Angeles when he stopped 51 shots in a 2-1 win on Jan. 7, 2010.

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.

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