Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard (35) deflects a shot by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings got a break, getting credit for a goal in perhaps one of the most bizarre ways in NHL history.
Niklas Kronwall's shot was deflected and bounced off the protective net out of play, caromed back over the glass, and struck goalie Jonathan Quick's back to tie the game with 26.1 seconds left in regulation.
Tomas Tatar scored in the shootout, and Jimmy Howard stopped all three shots he faced in the tiebreaker to lift Detroit to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
"That's embarrassing for the league," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It doesn't matter if we would've scored it or they scored it."
Kronwall seemed to agree.
"It shouldn't have counted," he said. "But at this stage of the game where we're at in the standings, we'll take it."
The Red Wings, who lost their two previous games 1-0, are in fifth place in the Atlantic Division and are in a logjam for a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Detroit avoided getting shut out in three straight games for the first time in the regular season, and the first time since the 1945 Stanley Cup finals against Toronto.
The Kings, especially defenceman Drew Doughty tried to protest Kronwall's goal, but it wasn't reviewable because none of the officials blew a whistle to stop play when the puck hit the net.
"They just said they didn't see it," Doughty said. "It's unfortunate. We should've got two points.
"I've never seen that before, that's for sure."
Los Angeles took a 2-1 lead when Jeff Carter scored off a rebound during a power play with 2:15 left in the third period.
Quick and Howard—two of the three U.S. Olympic goalies—bumped into each other and had a heated exchange during a stoppage in play midway through the second period.
"We were just discussing what we were going to do in Sochi," Howard joked.
Howard roughed up Kings forward Kyle Clifford when he slid into the crease. Howard and Mike Richards then shoved each other and were called for roughing. Howard later skated toward his bench during a break, Quick stood in his way to say something, and the two had to be separated.
"For him to do that, I thought it was pretty cool," said Doughty, who will play for Canada next month at the Winter Olympics. "I loved it, actually."
Howard finished with 30 saves.
Quick, who stopped 33 shots, shrugged off the tough-luck loss.
"Season ended against Chicago, Game 5, last year," he said. "That's tougher."
Richards broke a scoreless tie at 9:06 of the second, and Henrik Zetterberg tied it 41 seconds later.
The Kings went ahead on a power play, but Dwight King was penalized for holding onto the puck with 1:45 left in regulation. That proved to be costly.
"They could see the puck when Dwight King covered it with his hand, but they couldn't see it when it went over the barn and came back in," Sutter said.
Zetterberg's goal ended a scoreless streak that lasted 152 minutes, 21 seconds and dated to last week's win against the Kings.
The Red Wings started a season-high, five-game homestand, and they hope that is good news.
Detroit, which had won only one of its last eight home games, started Saturday with an NHL-low six home victories this season. The Red Wings won for just the second time in nine shootouts.
Detroit was without seven skaters who would have been in its lineup if healthy, including Pavel Datsyuk for the sixth straight game because of a lower-body injury. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said the team has players making "millions and millions," that never seem to play.
NOTES: Tatar returned from a one-game absence to attend his father's funeral and replaced Mikael Samuelsson. ... Kings D Matt Greene was scratched for a second straight game because of an upper-body injury. ... Datsyuk isn't expected to play Monday against St. Louis. ... The Kings, who had won two straight, are two games into a five-game trip. They have lost five straight at Joe Louis Arena.
Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage
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