Detroit Red Wings stumble as the LA Kings dominate in a 4-0 victory on Saturday night

Detroit Free Press

LOS ANGELES  — Three days after they arrived in southern California the Detroit Red Wings finally got to play a game, only for it all to go wrong within 10 minutes.

The Los Angeles Kings broke down and beat up the Wings the moment the puck dropped Saturday at Crypto.com Arena, handing the Wings a 4-0 loss that dropped them to 4-11-1 on the road.

Alex Nedeljkovic was barraged with shots as the Wings failed to play any better defensively than they did offensively. It was as bad a game as the Wings have played this season, reminiscent of 2019-20 when they would fall behind early and never recover.

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Final shots were 42-20 to Los Angeles.

There was a poignant pause before the game as a moment of silence was held to honor Teddy Balkind. The 10th-grade hockey player at the St. Luke’s School in New Canaan, Connecticut, died in a tragic on-ice incident on Thursday.

The Wings (16-16-3) arrived in Anaheim Wednesday in advance of being scheduled to play the Ducks Thursday, but COVID-19 issues with the Ducks led to that game being postponed till Sunday. The Wings said at the time they would have preferred to play Thursday because “we were ready” — but they didn’t look ready Saturday. They allowed 27 shots against in the first period, a season high for one period, and were outshot, 27-2 in the first 20 minutes. The game went the full 60, but the Wings were done after 10.

Benn there, done that

The Wings caught a break 1:30 into the game when video review showed that puck did not completely cross the goal line on Brendan Lemieux’s disallowed goal. But from there it got ugly: Phillip Danault scored at 6:27, seconds after a penalty to Joe Veleno expired, and Drew Doughty made it 2-0 at 9:06 when he fired a shot through traffic from the blue line. Six seconds after that, Dylan Larkin and Danault were lined up for a draw when tempers flared, Larkin repeatedly shoved his stick into Danault’s back. Larkin was injured last April when Dallas’ Jamie Benn shoved his stick into Larkin’s spine during a faceoff, but Larkin’s stick work on Danault was lower on the back — and officials did call Larkin for crosschecking. (Benn was not punished.)

Extra skater, bigger deficit

The punishment continued in the second period. The Wings went on a power play at 4:05 but the Kings still controlled the puck. They put the puck in Detroit’s net again but officials immediately waived it off because the play was off side. Another power play materialized at 14:41, this time with Doughty in the box for interference against Pius Suter. As the Wings segued from the first power play unit to the second, Tyler Bertuzzi appeared to leave the puck for Filip Zadina but the Kings pounced and capitalized on the turnover when Adrian Kempe made it 3-0. Trevor Moore scored into an empty net at 17:29 after Nedeljkovic had been pulled for an extra attacker with five minutes to play.

Older Frk, same story

Ex-Wing Martin Frk made his second appearance of the season in the Kings’ lineup, fresh off scoring in his debut. Frk, drafted by the Wings in the second round in 2012, scored 11 goals in 2017-18 but his one-dimensionality eventually led the team to not keep him. Frk landed in L.A.’s system, where he’s in the same position of trying to show there’s more to his game that his big — but inaccurate — shot. “His shot, his offensive chances, the way he creates there, should be enough to keep him in the lineup,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “What’s kept him out of the lineup for a number of years, whether it’s Detroit, Carolina, and here — one has been injury, two has been some responsibilities when he doesn’t have the puck and he’s not ready to shoot. In my mind he’s getting better in those areas. Everybody evolves at a different rate. Very few stay in the NHL just based on shot. Even (Alex) Ovechkin is not here just because of his shot, he does a lot of other things. Marty is evolving.”

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

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