Originally written on The Detroit Sports Site  |  Last updated 2/10/13

PITTSBURGH - JUNE 4: Jonathan Ericsson #52 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Pittsburgh Penguins during Game Four of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals on June 4, 2009 at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Anna Enriquez, Flickr It’s not even halfway through February and already, the Detroit Red Wings feel they must get into basketball’s March Madness act. Though energy was dwindling, Jonathan Ericsson’s rocket with four seconds left beat the buzzer, trickling over the line and rescuing two points, lifting the Red Wings to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Following an early penalty kill made possible by some great saves by Jimmy Howard, the Red Wings got a call of their own when Justin Williams went to the box for interference. Quickly, they turned that power play into a goal, as Pavel Datsyuk split the defense and clanked a shot off the post and over Jonathan Quick’s left shoulder. Afterwards, the Red Wings continued their assault on Quick, who made several solid saves. Howard did his part as well, with his best stop of the period coming as he stacked the pads on a one timed shot by Dustin Brown. Late in the period, the scoring picked up. Henrik Zetterberg set up Damien Brunner for the 2-0 lead, but the Kings quickly got that back after Anze Kopitar banged home a rebound Howard couldn’t control. The Red Wings led by one after 20 minutes of play. The second period began with a big penalty kill by the Red Wings. Following their power play, Los Angeles seemed to seize the momentum immediately, taking the play to Detroit at times with plenty of shots and offensive aggression. Perhaps fueled in part due to fatigue from yesterday afternoon’s game, suddenly, the Red Wings didn’t look like the better team despite their fast start. Another penalty was killed, and Howard was sensational in its wake while facing a shooting gallery. He was the only reason the Red Wings were able to hold their 2-1 lead through two periods. Back and forth play persisted in the third, as the Red Wings pushed back a tiny bit more than in the second period, but were still being outskated and outworked. Running on mere fumes, Detroit kicked away two power play chance halfway through the period which could have given them a two goal advantage back. The Kings made use of that on their 47th shot, as Alec Martinez tied the game late. Yet, as everyone knows within any close basketball game, it’s never over until it’s over. A final faceoff late in the Los Angeles zone yielded big results, and Ericsson blasted a shot that just trickled by Quick with seconds left on the clock. The Red Wings ended up trading goals in the final minute, and had stolen two points and a big win. Red Wings’ Wheel: Jimmy Howard. Without Howard’s effort, the Red Wings would have been toast by the third period. They’d have likely been facing a multiple goal deficit and with fatigued legs, a comeback may have been impossible. Instead, perhaps listening to my pleas from earlier in the week, the goaltender elevated his level of play when his tired roster needed him the most. He was only beaten on two bang-bang scrambles in front of the net, and was fantastic the rest of the day with several huge saves. Red Wings’ Heel: None. Considering the fact the Red Wings had to play two games within a 24 hour period, this effort was about what you could expect. Though they were tired, the Red Wings did deserve to win, outworking the Kings most of the day. The late goal proved the hockey gods sometimes do pay attention. Key Play Of The Game: Ericsson’s winning blast. Much like a last second three pointer, Ericsson dropped his shot in exactly when he needed to. Be it luck, skill, good fortune or a combination of all, the play happened and provided Detroit with a big win. Getting the shot off in time was clutch. Give Ericsson credit for making it happen and helping his team to two points. Beyond The Bench: The win was Detroit’s third in a row, and now, the Red Wings are starting to roll a bit. Most importantly, they’ve climbed back up the standings in the Western Conference and Central Division. With 15 points, Detroit is now second divisionally, and fifth in the conference. Winning the weekend was huge for the Red Wings, considering they knew the inherent difficulty of playing back to back games. All in all, spectacular weekend work. What’s Next: Finally, a deep breath. The Red Wings get to exhale, rest their tired legs and prepare for a home date with St. Louis on Wednesday night. The game begins at 7:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the NBC Sports Network. Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax
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