"We knew they were going to come out strong," Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar said. "They're fighting to make the playoffs."
Los Angeles had a setback before the puck dropped when the NHL suspended captain Dustin Brown for two games for elbowing Minnesota forward Jason Pominville on Tuesday.
Sutter disagreed with the decision.
"There was no intent," Sutter said. "The player ran into his elbow."
Brown ranks second on the team with 18 goals and fifth with 29 points.
"You don't replace Brown in your lineup," Sutter said. "I look at it another way. He's got two games off to get some rest for the playoffs."
Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick made 33 saves, including 13 in the first period when the Kings recorded just four shots on Howard.
Kyle Clifford gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 5:28 into the second and Pavel Datsyuk tied it 5:04 later.
The Kings had a power play midway through the third period, while trailing by a goal, but failed to take advantage.
Soon after the penalty was killed, Detroit went on a power play. A fan at Joe Louis Arena celebrated by throwing an octopus on the ice in what has become a playoff tradition in the Motor City.
Franzen flipped the puck past Quick after defenseman Matt Greene failed to move the burly player known as "The Mule" away from the front of the crease. Babcock said Franzen wasn't able to finish the game, declining to give details, but hoped he would be healthy enough to play against the Predators.
NOTES: The NBA's San Antonio Spurs are in a 16th straight postseason, the second longest active streak in North American pro sports. ... Chris Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, which owns the Red Wings, said progress is being made on a new arena for the team. ... Suter said F Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch.
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