I had very low expectations for this game. And when I checked the boxscore and saw that the Wings scored within a minute of the puck drop, I thought it was going to be downhill the rest of the game. I didn't get out of work till about 5:30 pm so I knew I was going to miss most of the misery. I made it to the gym, hopped on the treadmill, found FSN on the mini-TV, plugged in my headphones and groaned when I saw the score was 3-1 in Detroit's favor late in the second period.
In an unbelievable turn of events the Kings scored 4 unanswered goals in the third period to:
- beat the Wings 5-3;
- win at Joe Louis Arena for the first time in nearly 8 years (their last win in Detroit came on Feb 18, 2000);
- end the Wings 8-game winning streak preventing them from tying a franchise record of 9 consecutive wins;
- win for just the fourth time this season when being behind entering the third period;
- prove to the Wings and the rest of the league that no one can assume they'll get an easy 2 points from us. We may be last in the standings but it doesn't mean this team can't play.
It was unbelievable how everything just fell into place. O'Sullivan was able to pot a goal early in the third to give the team some hope and momentum. After going 0-3 on the PP through the first two periods, the PP unit was able to connect on the fourth Detroit penalty. In fact, I thought the first half of the fourth power play was atrocious. Passes weren't connecting, Detroit's PK line was fierce and aggressive, and the puck just wouldn't stay in Detroit's end. But alas, the tide changed. The Kings entered the offensive zone and in that one cycle were successful on converting on the man advantage. I couldn't believe that we had actually tied the game. In fact, even though there was more than half the period left in the game I was just praying that we could send it to overtime and at least leave Detroit with one point.
On the ensuing faceoff at center ice the Kings were able to keep up the pressure and intensity. I kept waiting for them to relax and breakdown but the team that showed up in the third period smelled the weakness brewing in Detroit's lineup and desperately wanted the W. Another Detroit power play set up the fourth Kings goal, which, once again, came when the second power play unit came on the ice. With just over 5 minutes left on the clock, Kopitar provided some insurance when he outpositioned and outmanned Lidstrom and sent a sweet backhand past Osgood.
Detroit fans may have been spewing out of Joe Louis after the fifth Kings goal but I was about to crap my pants from excitement and frightfulness. I have never stayed at the gym as long as I did tonight because I couldn't leave without watching the entire third period. My heartbeat was through the roof and I kept reminding myself that the game wasn't over and there was still plenty of time for a team as good as Detroit to tie it up. Barbs had a key save as the clock dwindled down and the rest of the team did their part to ensure the victory.
Brad Stuart was deservingly the first star of the game. He had two key blocked shots in the third period and actually, I'm slightly worried that he may have broken a bone in one of his hands on one of those plays. I've been happy with BS ever since the last game against Anaheim. I can't believe I'm going to say this but I'll be very sad if BS is traded.
Frolov was the second star of the game. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Frolov has progressed a lot this season and is a huge part of this team. He had some setbacks early in the season due to injuries but he's on fire. I think he has 21 points in the last 16 games (including tonight's game). He still has the best points per game average (0.955 ppg) on the team and is only 8 points behind Kopitar. If he continues on his recent pace, he could very well overtake Kopitar for the scoring lead.
LaBarbera let in some weak goals tonight but since the team was able to bounce back and get the win, I'm hopeful that the Kings can do the same in the event Cloutier isn't at the top of his game. The Kings have back-to-backs coming up so be on the lookout for Cloutier to start in one of them. My guess is that Barbs will start on Saturday against Pittsburgh and Cloots will get the green light on Sunday against the BJs.