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Kings collapse in 8-2 loss at Detroit

December 17, 2011 |  6:43 pm

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Throughout their scoring struggles this season, the Kings usually had a strong defensive foundation to fall back on, one that kept them competitive.

Facing the precise, passionate Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, the Kings abandoned all the good things about their game and fell apart as completely as they have in a long time in an 8-2 loss at Joe Louis Arena. Darryl Sutter, confirmed Saturday as the Kings' coach-in-waiting by a source familiar with the situation but not authorized to speak publicly, is facing a bigger job than he might have imagined.

Cory Emmerton had two goals and an assist, and Drew Miller scored twice as the Red Wings recorded their 10th straight home victory and overwhelmed the Kings in every area of the ice. The eight goals were the most given up by the Kings this season. They were held to two goals or fewer for the 11th straight game and have lost six of their last seven games. They are 1-2 under interim coach John Stevens, who replaced Terry Murray on Monday.

Stevens is scheduled to coach the finale of this trip, at Toronto on Monday. The plan is for Sutter's hiring to be announced Tuesday and for him to coach his first game Thursday against the Ducks at Staples Center. He agreed to a multiyear deal this week but had to tend to family matters and wait for immigration issues to be resolved before he could begin work.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick gave up two goals in the first two minutes and three on the first seven shots he faced before he was replaced by Jonathan Bernier. The Red Wings scored on their first shot at Bernier, compounding the misery for the Kings.

Miller triggered the onslaught at 1:45, scoring on the rebound of a shot by Darren Helm after Kings center Trevor Lewis fell while trying to capture a pass from Jack Johnson, and the Red Wings had an odd-man rush. Fifteen seconds later, Emmerton deflected a shot by Jonathan Ericsson past Quick, who had created the chance when he tried to hand the puck off to one of his defensemen only to have Tomas Holmstrom step in and swipe it. Holmstrom fed Ericsson and Emmerton got his stick on it.

Niklas Kronwall extended Detroit's lead to 3-0 at 8:32 when he whipped a shot into the upper right corner of the net. Stevens called timeout and used the break to pull Quick and replace him with Bernier.

The Kings picked things up a bit at 17:15, when Davis Drewiske scored in his second straight game after not having scored at all in the previous two years. But the Red Wings reestablished a three-goal lead at 18:35 on their first shot at Bernier, with Emmerton cashing in from the slot at 18:35.

Jarret Stoll pounced on a loose puck in the slot to trim Detroit’s lead to 4-2 at 11:03 of the second period, but Zetterberg scored on a nifty backhand shot at 12:06 to make it 5-2 and Pavel Datsyuk got behind the Kings defense and beat Bernier one-on-one at 19:38 for a 6-2 Detroit lead. Miller capitalized on a mistake by Michigan resident Jack Johnson (minus-4) to make it 7-2, and Brad Stuart scored from the top of the right circle during a power play to complete the indignity.

Check back later for more coverage at latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott in Detroit

Photo: Detroit's Cory Emmerton, right, celebrates the first of his two goals against the Kings on Saturday. Credit: Duane Burleson / Associated Press

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