Kings 2, Red Wings 1.

In fairness to Jonathan Quick, he hasn’t had many bad starts this season. Bad goals? Yes, but he usually recovers.

It just so happened Wednesday that his last bad start– one of the worst of his career — was against Wednesday’s opponent, the Detroit Red Wings. There was some pressure on Quick to re-establish his lock on the No. 1 goalie position after a couple good starts by Jonathan Bernier, and he delivered with an outstanding 28-save effort.

Because of Quick, goals by Anze Kopitar and (officially) Dustin Brown were enough. Brown’s goal, a deflection of an Alec Martinez point shot during a second-period power play, held up as the game-winner.

Kopitar snuck in on the backdoor to tie the game at 1 at 7:50 of the first period, batting in the rebound of a Dustin Penner shot.

Darren Helm got the Red Wings on the board with one of those bad goals in the first period; Quick got a piece of Helm’s hard slapshot, but the puck trickled slowly behind him and over the goal line.

Credit the Kings’ penalty kill for allowing only one shot to reach Quick in 2:43 of man-advantage time for Detroit, which had scored at least one power-play goal in seven straight games.

By the time the day’s games were complete, the Kings needed a win to remain in the top eight of the Western Conference standings. They can’t be knocked out of the top eight tomorrow, either; only a Phoenix win against Calgary could push them into eighth.

A few more notes:
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Stars 4, Kings 3, OT.

The Kings let one slip away.

In a game they led for all but 89 seconds, the Kings watched the Dallas Stars leap two points ahead of them in the standings on Brenden Morrow’s goal 38 seconds into overtime.

The blame was squarely pointed toward a power play that failed to convert four chances spanning 9:00 — including a three-minute major penalty after Steve Ott was penalized for spearing late in the first period.

“We need to re-focus, re-adjust — especially on the power play — and I think maybe just relax a little bit,” said Justin Williams, who had a goal and an assist. “We know we’re struggling on the power play but we need to relax out there I think a little bit with the man advantage and in turn make plays because there are a lot of guys that are really good with the puck and we need to execute that.”

Willie Mitchell and Kyle Clifford also scored goals for the Kings (36-25-5, 77 points), who got 18 saves from Jonathan Bernier. With the Kings up 3-2 at 5:20 of the third period, Bernier was burned for a short-handed goal by Jamie Benn, who stole the puck from Drew Doughty just inside the Kings blue line and skated the length of the ice before depositing the puck between Bernier’s legs.

Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley also scored for Dallas (36-23-7, 79 points).
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Vancouver 3, Kings 1.

Underneath the adrenaline, the Kings’ outrage over the game-winning goal, and the specter of a 2010 playoff rematch (and possible 2011 playoff preview) was a familiar truth: The Kings need to score more.

The good news is that Jonathan Quick (33 saves) was good. But he could do nothing about the Kings’ inability to convert a power play or put more than 22 shots on goal.

The bad news is that, in the last two games combined, the Kings have scored twice and registered 40 shots. That might amount to a walk in the park for NHL-leading Vancouver, which had a surprise up its sleeve by matching the Kings’ physical play for 60 minutes.

They also had this Daniel Sedin goal, which drew the outrage of Quick, Drew Doughty, and Terry Murray — judge for yourself whether it’s legal or not:

Tomorrow’s story will focus on the unusally strong reaction by the Kings to Sedin’s goal.

Here are a few notes that won’t make the paper:

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Kings 1, Phoenix 0.

The difference in the Kings’ last two games wasn’t Jonathan Bernier or Dustin Penner. It was astronomical.

That said, Jonathan Bernier’s 25 saves and Dustin Penner’s debut were the most memorable aspects of a game decided on Jarret Stoll’s power-play goal with 7:47 left in the third period.

For the first time in a while, Bernier had to flash a nervous smile and get political in the dressing room after the game. That’s the reward for posting a shutout immediately after a 7-4 loss: Questions about whether you want to be the starter.

“For me, it’s not something I focus on,” Bernier said. “Me and Quickie, we’re here to win some hockey games. Quickie’s our number one. He’s done a tremendous job for us.”

Nobody’s denying Quick’s resume. But neither can one ignore his six goals allowed Monday against Detroit – a team the Kings might have to face in the playoffs. Terry Murray didn’t ignore Quick’s last outing by starting Bernier on Thursday, and now the coach can’t just as easily ignore Bernier’s shutout. Murray would not tip his thinking when asked after the game if he was inclined to start Bernier against Dallas.

Penner didn’t score, but he was directly involved in the goal, and had some good cycle shifts with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds (and Justin Williams, who took over for Simmonds at right wing in the third period). Penner’s only shot attempt was blocked, but he led the Kings with five hits.

A few more notes that won’t appear in tomorrow’s editions …
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Penner practices, other changes.

Dustin Penner attracted more than the usual share of media and fans to Toyota Sports Center on a Wednesday morning. Penner is the Kings’ new star attraction but, Terry Murray cautioned, “I’m not looking for him to be a savior of the franchise.”

Given the revolving-door history of Kopitar’s left wings, there will be pressure on Penner to perform – but not as much as he faced in Edmonton. That will be the focus of tomorrow’s story, recapping what was an otherwise uneventful day of practice. Here were the new forward lines:

Penner-Kopitar-Simmonds
Smyth-Stoll-Williams
Richardson-Handzus-Brown
Clifford-Lewis-Westgarth-Ponikarovsky

Clifford goes to the fourth line by design; Murray said that he’s cognizant of the fact that the rookie hasn’t played more than 75 games in a season at the junior level. Clifford is at 59 now and Murray figures he will be more effective in energy-line minutes from here on out.

Jonathan Bernier will start in goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in light of Jonathan Quick’s subpar performance against Detroit on Monday.

“It has just about everything to do with the last game,” Murray said. “That’s how I make my decision. I’ve got to see performance. I’ll take a player out if he’s not performing, or having a really difficult day.”

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