As they started a big road trip after a disappointing homestand, the Los Angeles Kings needed to make a statement.
The Kings spotted Detroit a two-goal lead just 7:31 into the game, but refused to quit. Anze Kopitar halved the deficit in the second period, and third-period tallies by Peter Harrold and Brad Richardson gave L.A. a 3-2 victory on Saturday night. Richardson's goal with 7:57 left in regulation broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Kings just their second win in 17 games at Joe Louis Arena since February 2000.
"That was a big win for us, for sure," coach Terry Murray said. "Coming in here (and winning) is something that hasn't happened much over the most recent years. We've had a couple of close games this year, right down to the last couple minutes, and could not pull it out. It's a good feeling for this young group of guys, to come in and play the Detroit Red Wings and be able to win in a significant game at this time of the year."
The win moved the Kings into sixth place in the Western Conference -- while dropping Detroit out of the top eight. The Wings and Calgary both have 58 points in 51 games, but the Flames have one more victory.
"They're right behind us in the standings, and just to push them a little further down, it definitely makes a difference," center Anze Kopitar said. "Hopefully it's going to pay off in the end."
The game started as if it would be just another routine Wings win over the Kings in Detroit
Valtteri Filppula opened the scoring 5:29 into the game with his fifth goal. He took a pass from Dan Cleary in the high slot, skated to the bottom of the left circle and beat Jonathan Quick high on the short side. Bertuzzi made it 2-0 at 7:31 when Brian Rafalski's shot from the point deflected in off his leg during a 5-on-3 power play.
But that was all the offense the Wings managed against Quick, who stopped 31 shots. Detroit blew a two-goal lead for the third time in four games.
"We had a good chance to gain a couple points on these guys, and after the first 10 minutes we stopped skating," Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said. "We got outworked. The whole second period it felt like we spent in our zone. They carried most of the game."
Kopitar got Los Angeles on the board at 1:55 of the second period when banked a loose puck into an empty net for his 20th goal. Peter Harrold tied it at 6:27 of the third period with his first goal of the season, beating Jimmy Howard with a wrister from the slot.
Richardson put the Kings ahead for the first time when he tipped home Scott Parse's cross-crease pass for his seventh of the season.
He appreciated what the Los Angeles accomplished by starting a five-game trip with a victory in one of the Kings' least-favorite places to visit.
"It's always a tough building, coming in here," Richardson said. "We got down early, when they had that 5-on-3, but we didn't play too bad in the first. They kind of got those bounces but we played really good in the second and really good in the third, and that was a huge win for us. Obviously the standings are tight, so any win, especially against the guys right behind us, is huge."
Wings coach Mike Babcock said the game started turning around midway through the fist period.
"After we got up 2-0, I thought they took over in the second half of the first period," he said. "They controlled the second period, and they capitalized on some chances in the third.
"They got on top of our D and ground our D down. I didn't think our forwards put enough pressure on their D. They executed and they caught us from behind."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report