The Los Angeles Kings received sensational goaltending while Jonathan Quick was sidelined for 24 games, but the return of the 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner has come at a critical juncture.
Quick has posted a 2-0-1 mark while allowing a total of four goals to help the Kings bounce back from a five-game losing streak. The league's best defensive team will continue a five-game homestand when the Detroit Red Wings pay a visit to Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The Red Wings have won only four times in their last 14 games (4-7-3) and a combination of key injuries and poor play by netminder Jimmy Howard is making it difficult for them to go on a run. Pavel Datsyuk has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury and Darren Helm has sat out three in a row with a groin injury. With their status for Saturday's matchup still in doubt, Detroit made a move to bolster its depth at center by recalling Riley Sheahan from Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, FSN Detroit, FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE RED WINGS (19-15-10): Howard was named to the U.S. Olympic team but he continues to struggle since returning from a three-week absence due to a knee injury. Howard fell to 7-10-8 after he was yanked in the second period of Thursday's 4-1 loss at San Jose, which marked the fourth time in his last eight starts that he has surrendered at least four goals.
"You got to keep it out of your net," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com. "We're not getting to four (goals). We’re getting to three, max. You got to keep them to two and under."
ABOUT THE KINGS (27-13-5): Jeff Carter notched his seventh goal in 10 games and ninth in the last 14 in Thursday's 4-2 victory over Boston. Still, Los Angeles is most encouraged by the play of Quick, who had some erratic moments earlier in the season but appears to have regain his form following the long layoff.
"Being out for seven weeks, even in his first game back it seemed like he didn't miss a game," captain Dustin Brown said. "It's impressive and it's a credit to him doing the work that he needed to do to be ready and it's why he's the best goalie (in the league)."
1. Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg has 16 goals and 33 points in 36 games against Los Angeles.
2. Kings C Mike Richards is seeking his first goal since Nov. 25, a span of 20 games.
3. Detroit has won five of the last seven meetings, but the Kings prevailed in both games in Los Angeles.