DETROIT -- The Los Angeles Kings certainly deserved a better fate on Sunday afternoon.
They outshot and outplayed the Detroit Red Wings for virtually the entire game and battled back to tie the contest with less than a minute left.
But Jonathan Ericsson's goal with 4.5 seconds left gave Detroit a 3-2 win over the defending Stanley Cup champions at Joe Louis Arena.
"Probably our best 60 minutes in a long time," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Got to forget about the last 10 seconds. We got a game tomorrow night."
Jimmy Howard was spectacular with 45 saves for Detroit (7-4-1), which won its third straight.
"They did a good job of getting on top of us and turning pucks over. They just kept throwing pucks at the net," Howard said. "We actually did a good job of limiting them to one shot by cutting down on rebounds. It was one shot and done. And we did a good job of keeping them to the outside."
Pavel Datsyuk and Damien Brunner also scored for the Wings and Henrik Zetterberg had two assists.
"If you watched that game, I think you'd say Howie stole that one for us, no doubt about that," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said.
It was the most saves Howard has made in a game since he stopped 47 on Feb. 7, 2011, against the New York Rangers.
Anze Kopitar and Alec Martinez scored for Los Angeles (3-5-2). Jonathan Quick stopped 28 shots.
"That was our best game of the year," Kopitar said. "Playing like that, you're going to win more times than not."
Ericsson's slap shot from the right point trickled through Quick's pads for Ericsson's second goal.
"The guys were battling hard in the corner and it bounced off the boards to me," Ericsson said. "I had a lot of time. I just tried to get it on the net and it just rolled in. The funny thing is, one of the linesman was thanking me after I scored. He said, 'Thank you so much. I really have to (the bathroom). I wouldn't last the
Quick talked about the goal.
"I saw it come off the blade (of Ericsson's stick) and clearly came to the net," he said. "I pushed to the right and he was coming to his left and you lose it as you're coming across. I wasn't able to make the save."
Martinez tied the game 2-2 for the Kings with 52.8 seconds left and Quick was pulled for the extra attacker. The native of the Detroit suburb of Rochester backhanded in a rebound off a goal-mouth scramble for his first goal.
The Kings outshot the Red Wings 23-9 in the second period but Howard held them off the scoreboard with several big saves. One was Dwight King's rebound from point-blank range with 7:12 left in the middle period.
"It was almost like we looked at each other too much, hoping for someone else to do the job," Kronwall said about the second period. "... But we were lucky to have Howie in net. He played, once again, unbelievable."
Detroit led 2-1 after the first period.
Kopitar put Los Angeles on the board with 40.3 seconds left in the first period when he put in a rebound. It was Kopitar's fourth goal.
Goals by Datsyuk and Brunner had given the Red Wings a 2-0 lead.
Datsyuk's power-play goal opened the scoring 5:44 into the game when he took a pass from Zetterberg just inside the Kings blue line and split the defensemen for a breakaway and beat Quick high on the glove side.
It was the fifth goal for Datsyuk, who about 90 seconds before had taken a big hit from Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty in front of the Kings' net after Datsyuk made a toe drag move and was about to shoot. The hit knocked Datsyuk's helmet off.
Brunner's sixth goal of the season came with 2:32 remaining in the opening period when his wrist shot from the upper part of the right circle beat Quick.
Notes: Defenseman Keaton Ellerby made his Los Angeles debut after being acquired from the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round pick on Friday. ... Kopitar will be an Olympian for the first time -- if, of course, he's healthy -- in the 2014 Winter Olympics because his home country, Slovenia, qualified for the Games by beating higher-ranked Belarus and host Denmark last week. ... Detroit forward Todd Bertuzzi missed his second game because of a sore back. ... It was the 750th game as an NHL head coach for Red Wings' bench boss Mike Babcock. ... Detroit waived goaltender Joey MacDonald. If he clears waivers by noon ET Monday, he'll be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. MacDonald hasn't played since last March 14 because of a bulging disc in his back. MacDonald has been cleared to play after 10 months of rehab.