The Kings played a stellar defensive game Wednesday night. They had no choice because the smooth-skating Detroit Red Wings had them pinned down in their own end of the ice for extended stretches and it looked like they were skating uphill whenever they controlled the puck.
This wasn’t what the Kings had in mind after a four-game winning streak had them talking about their renewed commitment to the style of hockey that vaulted them from the eighth seed in the Western Conference to the Stanley Cup championship last spring.
After a halting start in the first period and poor special teams play in the second, the Kings suddenly came to life in the third, scoring twice and extending their winning streak to five consecutive games with a 2-1 victory over the Red Wings at Staples Center.
Anze Kopitar capped the Kings’ rally with a highlight reel-caliber goal that gave them their first lead 15 minutes, 12 seconds into the third. Kopitar accepted a deft pass from along the boards from teammate Dwight King, faked Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to the ice and put the puck behind him.
A little more than five minutes earlier, Jeff Carter’s deflection of Mike Richards’ perimeter shot trickled into the back of the net to tie the score at 1-all. It extended Carter’s goal-scoring streak to five consecutive games, one shy of his career best set in 2010.
It also proved to be something of a game-saver for the Kings, who played far too often in their own end of the ice as the Red Wings buzzed around Jonathan Bernier’s net again and again. The Red Wings led 1-0 after a first-period goal by Kyle Quincey, but couldn’t extend their lead.