DETROIT (DETROIT FREE PRESS) The game was a blur of black and white for Jimmy Howard. Kings jerseys hovered around him, the puck swarmed like a relentless bee.
Howard shrugged it all off like another day at work, making 23 saves in the second period alone among 45 total this afternoon at Joe Louis Arena to edge the Red Wings past the Kings, 3-2.
Jonathan Ericsson scored with 4.5 seconds left in regulation, seconds after Alec Martinez put a juicy rebound behind Howard.
Henrik Zetterberg had his fifth multi-point game of the season and Pavel Datsyuk scored his second power play goal in two days. Damien Brunner paced the Wings with his team-leading sixth goal.
The star of the game, though, was Howard, who worked non-stop as the Wings allowed 38 shots after two periods, two more than they'd allowed in any game all season. Howard has seen the Kings pour it on before; three years ago, on Jan. 7 of 2010, he stopped 51 of 52 shot at Los Angeles for a 2-1 victory.
The Kings were the fresher team, having last played Thursday, while the Wings took the ice less than 24 hours after winning their previous game. The one guy that didn't seem to affect was Howard, who also started Saturday: He withstood an early barrage of shots minutes after today's game began.
Then the Wings to a power play, after killing off a partial one by the Kings, and that made all the difference. Zetterberg found Datsyuk, who a minute earlier lost his helmet on a huge hit by Drew Dougty, did his thing, split the D, roof the puck - and the Wings had a 1-0 lead.
It grew to 2-0 late in the period, when Zetterberg found Brunner in the right circle for a wrist shot, but Anze Kopitar dinged Howard with a rebound with less than a minute to play in the first period.
If intermission slowed the Kings' momentum, it didn't show. They owned the second period from the first shift to the last, stymied only by Howard, whose acrobatics denied all 23 attempts the Kings threw his way. Howard did the splits to make a save on Dwight King, and squeezed his skates shut to corral the puck on a later save, aided by Niklas Kronwall using his stick to prevent the puck from sliding across the line. The result was that the Wings still lead going into the third period, thanks entirely to Howard.
Howard kept up his heroics with a save on Jarret Stoll, who slid in from the right flank to register the Kings' 40th shot on net.
Contact Helene St. James: 313-222-2295 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter@helenestjames.