Even Niklas Kronwall conceded his game-tying goal shouldn't have counted. Not that he was about to give it back.
Kronwall scored with 26.1 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, and Tomas Tatar scored the only goal of the shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory against the Los Angeles Kings at Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
Kronwall was credited with the tying goal when his deflected point shot appeared to hit high up in the netting behind the goal, then caromed off the back of goaltender Jonathan Quick and rolled into the net.
None of the officials saw the puck hit the netting, which would have resulted in a whistle. The play was called a goal on the ice, and the NHL said in a statement that although "video of the play appears to show the puck hitting the protective mesh above the glass before deflecting off goaltender Jonathan Quick and into the Los Angeles net. While the Situation Room examined the video, this is not a reviewable play therefore the referee's call on the ice stands."
Kronwall admitted the Red Wings got a break.
"It shouldn't have counted, but at this stage of the game, where we are in the standings, we'll take it," Kronwall said. "I don't think anybody knew where the puck was. You look at the guys and everybody was waiting, [saying] 'where is it?' Then it bounced off the goalie's back and in.
"We ended up getting a lucky break there. I thought we battled hard and found a way."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock admitted he never saw what happened.
"I didn't see anything on the goal," he said. "The guys told me it hit the top of the mesh. We couldn't see anything from the bench. The referees obviously didn't see it, so obviously they didn't know."
Like Kronwall, he wasn't about to give it back.
"You get breaks against you a lot," he said. "We've had a number [of goals] called back against us this year. That was a break we got. If you work hard, over time you get breaks."
Kings center Mike Richards, who opened the scoring in the second period, said he did see the puck hit the netting and that he was "surprised, a little bit" that the officials did not.
"There's a lot going on out there for them to be looking at. I didn't play a perfect game; they're not going to," he said. "It’s impossible to have a perfect game. You're going to make mistakes and unfortunately that was at the end of a game. Kind of tied it up, but it is what it is. It's nothing you can do about it now, just move on."
The goal was redemption for Kronwall, whose holding penalty with 3:08 remaining in the third period led to Jeff Carter's go-ahead power-play goal with 2:15 to play. Carter picked up the carom of Drew Doughty's point shot and zipped it past Jimmy Howard from the slot for the Kings' second power-play goal of the night.
Tatar opened the shootout by snapping a shot from between the circles past Quick, and Howard denied all three L.A. shooters, ending the game by getting the knob of his stick on a wrister by Richards. It was the second win in nine shootouts this season for Detroit and the first in six tiebreakers for Howard, who finished with 30 saves to beat Quick (33 saves) for the second time in a week in a battle of U.S. Olympic goaltenders.
"With our lineup now, Howie knows he has to be a star, and he was," Babcock said.
Before the frantic final minutes, the only scoring came 41 seconds apart in the second period. Richards scored for Los Angeles at 9:06, but Henrik Zetterberg tied the game at 9:47.
Detroit (21-17-10) hadn't won a home game since a 3-2 overtime win against the Calgary Flames on Dec. 19.
"We played hard enough to put ourselves in position where it was our turn to win," Kronwall said.
Neither team generated a lot of offense during a scoreless first period. Each team had eight shots on goal and a power play. Detroit won 13 of the 19 faceoffs; the Kings, one of the NHL's most physical teams, were credited with 20 hits to 10 for the Red Wings.
The Red Wings killed a penalty to Jakub Kindl early in the second period, but the Kings opened the scoring after Brendan Smith was sent off for cross-checking at 8:17. Richards scored his first goal in 24 games when his shot from just above the right faceoff dot zipped off the jaw of Howard's mask and deflected into the net at 9:06. It was Richards' seventh goal of the season and first since Nov. 25.
But Detroit ended a scoring drought of more than seven periods by tying the game 41 seconds later. Gustav Nyquist's pass from the right corner found Zetterberg alone in the slot for a one-timer into a half-empty net. It was the Red Wings' first goal in 152:21, since Daniel Cleary scored at 17:16 of the third period against Los Angeles last Saturday. Detroit had lost back-to-back 1-0 games to the Anaheim Ducks and New York Rangers since then.
The goal was Zetterberg's 15th of the season and 10th in his past 15 games against the Kings.
Richards said there's nothing the Kings can do about the outcome, and that they had to turn their attention to their next game, against the Boston Bruins on Monday.
"It's disappointing. We had a back-and-forth game. We played pretty good," he said. "We made some mistakes. You've got to score in the shootout, especially if you're going to win a game in the shootout. So that's disappointing too. We had some chances, especially at the end and in overtime and we didn't bury either.
"We have to move on. We can't dwell on something that happened or something that was out of our control."
Material from team media was used in this report.