LOS ANGELES – Last week Kyle Quincey joked that he leads the league with the most “third” assists.
Through his first 17 games, the Red Wings’ defenseman had been held off the score sheet, an anomaly with no goals, no “official” assists and a plus-10 rating.
Quincey finally got on the score sheet, giving the Red Wings an early 1-0 lead against the Kings. The one-goal looked like it would hold up too, as the Wings’ defense and penalty killers played perhaps their best game of the season.
“My mindset going into the next game isn’t really going to change,” said Quincey, whose now a plus-11. “My first goal is to keep the puck out of our net and play defensively well.”
Entering Wednesday’s game, Quincey was tied for 12th best plus-minus rating. But the Red Wings’ defenseman was the only league player who had a rating north of plus-3 and no points. Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser now holds the dubious honor all by himself: no points and a plus-3.
“If the goals go in, or if they don’t, it’s not out of my control, but my job is to get the shots and if they go in, they go in,” Quincey said. “Usually they do, eventually, so you just kind of keep sticking with it.”
However, Quincey’s goal – which wasn’t the prettiest of goals – was the only puck that the Red Wings got past Kings backup Jonathan Bernier, who made 32 saves for his first win in two career starts against Detroit. Quincey’s shot went high in the air and came down behind Bernier who never saw the puck as it ricocheted off the back of the goaltender’s helmet and into the net.
But midway through the third period, the Kings finally broke through on consecutive goals by Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar, which helped Los Angeles defeat the Wings, 2-1, before a sold-out crowd at Staples Center.
Quincey’s goal was the fourth that he’s scored in a Wings’ uniform. He had missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, which he sustained last Thursday.
“The ankle’s not 100 percent, but hopefully it gets better day to day,” Quincey said. “I almost feel better injured, because you come back and just keep it simple. So I was wondering how it would do, but I’m happy with how it went and keep going from here.”
Special teams played a factor in Wednesday’s outcome as the Kings tied the game on Carter’s power-play tally at 10:26 of the final period.
Still, the Wings’ special teams were excellent. The power play, though held scoreless for the 10th straight road game – dating back to last spring’s playoff series against Nashville – played with energy and created several scoring chances, particularly in the first period when six of their 13 shots came on two separate man-advantages.
“We got kind of a fluky (goal) so we had built some momentum and we kept going,” Quincey said. “That was important. It doesn’t really matter if they score, but it we get the momentum and keep it going then that’s huge. That penalty kill was good for the most part, too. Killing off 3-4 minutes of 5-on-3 is unbelievable. Just frustrating. You can’t do it for that long because eventually one is going to go in.”
Wings’ power play is 0-for-31 in eight road games this season. They are the only NHL team without a road power-play goal. But after a strong showing last week, the Wings have the league’s top producing home power play at home, tied with Tampa Bay with 14 goals with the man-advantage.
“For the most part we executed in our own zone, in the first period, especially,” Quincey said. “It’s frustrating. It’s a tough one to swallow, because I thought we played, for the most part, pretty good.”
THREE STARS: 3. Niklas Kronwall, DET (5 shots); 2, Anze Kopitar, LAK (1 goal, 1 assis); 1, Jonathan Bernier, LAK (32 saves).
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