The Detroit Red Wings and the Los Angeles Kings put on quite a show for a nationally televised NBC audience on Sunday afternoon. The defending Stanley Cup Champions went into hockey town trying to get back on track and reach a .500 record, which proved to be a tough and eventual heartbreaking mission. The most simple way to describe the game was big goals early, big goals late, and big saves sandwiched in between.
Pavel Datsyuk got the game going early when he split the middle of two Kings’ defenders and beat Jonathan Quick upstairs with a wicked wrist shot. This was a classic Datsyuk type play from one of the most exciting players in the game today. Damien Brunner added to the Red Wings total with a snap shot that Quick wasn’t quick enough for.
The first period was then topped off with a third goal, this time by Kings’ star Anze Kopitar who was in the right place at the right time when he put a rebound into the empty net.
For the next 40 minutes it was the Jimmy Howard show, making big save after big save. Howard made Mike “Doc” Emrick’s voice reach new levels over and over again after each spectacular save. Howard faced 49 shots and the only goal he gave up through the first 59 minutes he could do nothing about.
It wasn’t until the final minute, and until the Kings had an extra man on the ice after pulling Quick when Howard made a mistake. He gave up a rebound and Alec Martinez brought the puck over to Howard’s left and snuck it underneath his glove. It was a great goal by Martinez who was able to get Howard off balance and force a tie game with 52.8 seconds remaining.
Overtime looked pretty likely, right?
Wrong. This is hockey town, and the Red Wings always seem to make magic happen.
Jonathan Ericsson threw the puck at the net from just in front of the blue line, and the traffic in front was just enough to keep Quick from the last save he needed before the period expired. I stress the words “just enough” as the puck trickled right through Quick who appeared to have made the save. The puck squeezed out behind him and made its way into the net with only 4.5 seconds to go.
The Joe Louis Arena went into a frenzy, Kings fans hit themselves in the head once again this season, and the entire hockey world got to hear Emrick call another amazing moment.
This was a special sunday afternoon for all involved with the NHL, no doubt about it.