LOS ANGELES -- Coming into Wednesday night's game, the Detroit Red Wings were in the playoffs as the eighth seed but the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings were not, sitting in the 10th position.
That all changed -- rather quickly thanks to some late-game heroics - as the Kings beat the Red Wings 2-1 to get their season-high fifth-straight win, two much-needed points and enabled them to leapfrog of the Red Wings in the standings.
The game-winner was scored by Anze Kopitar, who beat Jimmy Howard with a deke and wrist shot directly in front of the net, giving the Kings the one-goal lead 4:48 remaining.
The Kings had tied the game at 1-1 on Jeff Carter's 11th goal of the year with 9:34 to play. It came off a two-man advantage after Kyle Quincey was called for roughing and Pavel Datsyuk was docked two minutes on a delaying-game faceoff violation.
Datsyuk's penalty was the backbreaker, resulting in the Kings third two-man advantage power play and Carter's tying goal.
The Red Wings struck first in the opening period, getting an unassisted goal from Kyle Quincy at the 9:42 mark. It was a strange goal, ricocheting off the back Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier's head and into the net.
After taking the 1-0 lead, Detroit flirted with danger throughout the second period. Twice the Kings had two-man advantages, pummeling Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard with six shots on the two power plays.
But the Kings ended up with nothing to show for it. Howard and the Red Wings escaped the period unscathed despite 13 Kings' shots on goal.
But then came the third period, the Kings playing with a sense of desperation and capitalizing on Datsyuk's mistake and Kopitar's magic in front of the net.
NOTES: It's not hard to figure out how the Kings won a season-high four straight games and six out of their last seven going into Wednesday's game. The Stanley Cup champions have struck a perfect balance between offense and defense, out-scoring opponents on their four-game win streak 15-5 and 23-10 over the last seven. ... Kings stars Dustin Brown, Carter and Kopitar have got untracked, with Brown scoring goals in three straight games, Carter finding the net in four straight and six out of the last seven and Kopitar notching 15 points over the last 14 games. ... With Detroit defensemen Brendan Smith and Quincey returning from injury Wednesday, Ian White was the odd man out as a healthy scratch, and that wasn't received well by White, who said at the Red Wings morning skate he was "taken aback" by the decision. ... In addition to White, Kent Huskins also was scratched. ... The Red Wings have been a recent Kings nemesis, winning four of the last five meetings since 2011.