LOS ANGELES (AP)—Brett Hull got the bounce he needed to end the longest goal drought of his NHL career.
Hull, the third-leading goal scorer in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, got his 17th of the season and 733rd of his career on a power play at 3:47 of the second period while Kings defenseman Jaroslav Modry was serving a hooking penalty.
The eight-time All-Star parked himself in the low slot and redirected Nicklas Lidstrom’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle past Roman Cechmanek, tying the score at 2. It was Hull’s 47th goal in 66 games against Los Angeles.
“Brett had a smile from ear to ear,” Schneider said. “I’m sure it weighed on him a little bit, but you couldn’t tell by the way he was in the dressing room around the guys and the way he plays out there. He’s one of the most unselfish guys. He’s not really pressing and shooting all the time, he’s always moving the puck and dishing it.”
Well-traveled defenseman Jamie Rivers scored his first goal in 34 games, helping the Central Division-leading Red Wings end a three-game winless streak and increase their league-leading goal total to 161. But no one in the Detroit dressing room was happy about the way they played defensively.
“We can’t expect to score five goals all the time,” defenseman Mathieu Dandenault said. “We’ll take the two points, but it certainly doesn’t patch anything. We’ve really got to look in the mirror and get our system back in order and just play our positions. We’ve been getting out of position and everybody’s trying to do everybody else’s job.”
Schneider, acquired by Detroit last March in a multiplayer trade that sent Sean Avery to the Kings, put the Red Wings ahead 1 1/2 minutes later with a wrist shot from the right circle while Cechmanek was screened by Kings forward Derek Armstrong.
“We beat ourselves,” Robitaille said. “We made a couple of mistakes, and we just can’t afford to do that against a team like that. They’re a great team and they made us pay for our mistakes.”
Curtis Joseph, who made 25 saves, preserved the lead by stopping rookie Scott Barney on a breakaway with about 10 1/2 minutes left in the second period after Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer misplayed a bouncing puck at the red line and fell backward.
Rivers made it 4-2, scoring on a 40-foot slap shot with 16:05 remaining after intercepting an attempted clearing pass by defenseman Mattias Norstrom. It was his 14th goal in 358 NHL games and his first since March 6, 2002, with Boston. Detroit is Rivers’ sixth team in the last six seasons.
“When you’re playing the Detroit Red Wings and you put four pucks on their sticks for goals, you’re not putting the odds on your side in terms of beating them,” Kings coach Andy Murray said.
Robitaille got the Kings a goal closer, redirecting Frolov’s centering pass with 13:45 to play while Chris Chelios was serving a boarding penalty. But Schneider restored Detroit’s two-goal lead with 6:08 left.
“I don’t know that it’s a win we should be particularly thrilled with,” Detroit captain Steve Yzerman said. “We allowed four goals and we gave up too many chances in the third period and relied too much on our goaltender to win the game. They’ve got their top offensive players out, so we should have been able to shut them down.”
Detroit rookie defenseman Niklas Kronwall broke his right ankle during the pregame warmup and will return to Detroit on Friday. He is expected to be out at least six to eight weeks.
“It was a freak accident. He was just going backward and caught a rut in the ice and twisted his ankle on his way down,” Dandenault said. “It didn’t look like much to us at the time, but he just stayed down and a couple of guys had to help him off the ice. It’s a tough one to take because he was playing really well. You could see his confidence level was really starting to comethrough, and everybody was pleased with the way he’s played.”
Chelios turns 42 on Sunday. Friday is Brendan Shanahan’s 35th birthday, and Tomas Holmstrom’s 31st. … Datsyuk, who leads Detroit with 22 goals and 48 points, was selected to the All-Star game for the first time as a reserve. Lidstrom, who has won the Norris Trophy in each of the previous three seasons, already was voted into the starting lineup by the fans. … Norstrom also was picked as a reserve for the West All-Stars, but he feels that teammate Ziggy Palffy’s season-ending shoulder injury had something to do with his selection. “We have one true All-Star on our team, and that’s Ziggy Palffy,” said Norstrom, who also played in the 1999 game. … Kings LW Martin Straka had surgery Thursday to repair damaged cartilage in both knees. He injured his right knee on Jan. 3 against Dallas, and his left knee a week later againstColumbus.