The Nashville Predators kicked off their current 3-game win streak with a 2-1 eight-round shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings on January 31st. Since then, Nashville dispatched the Sharks with the same 2-1 shootout result and let loose a torrent of scoring against the St. Louis Blues 6-1 handing them their first home loss of the year.
Game time against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings is at 7 P.M. Central and can be seen on FS Tennessee with Pete Weber and Terry Crisp on the call and over the FM dial on Predators Flagship Station 102.5 the Game with Tom Callahan and Stu Grimson.
The Kings took a beating of their own against the Anaheim Ducks giving up 7 goals in a 7-4 loss last Saturday. The Blue Jackets were victim to the Kings ire as Los Angeles went into Columbus and marched out with 2 points winning 4-2 Tuesday night. Carter continues his goal scoring efforts with a team-leading 4 goals while Anze Kopitar, the always dangerous Slovenian, is hitting his stride with 3 goals and 2 assists.
Jonathan Quick has been lacking in the backstopping department as his numbers tell a different tale from last years regular season. Currently he sits at a 2.62 GAA, .897 SV% and 0 shutouts which is paltry compared to his Vezina-worthy numbers from last season: 1.95 GAA, .929 SV% 10 shutouts.
Pekka Rinne has been back to form in the last three games allowing only one goal per game. In the shootout against the Kings, Rinne let in three goals but the Predators battled back to score the fourth goal (Kostitsyn) to wrap up the win.
Against the Sharks, Rinne stood tall on all three attempts stopping some of the games most resilient shootout specialists in Handzus, Pavelski and Clowe. In St. Louis, Rinne held the Blues off the board until a sneaky backhand from Pietrangelo found its way off Rinne’s shoulder and into the net on the Blues PP. Rinne stopped many point blank chances from the ever-dangerous Vladimir Tarasenko who has had Nashville’s number so far this season.
The expected lineup for the Predators (had 7 defenseman against St. Louis):
For the Kings to win: It’ll be imperative for the Kings to take the Bridgestone Arena crowd out early. The shootout losses of the first two home games of the Predators left a bitter taste in the fan’s mouths and after the long road trip for the Predators (7 games-tying their longest ever) will be looking for redemption.
The Golden Army will be loud and proud to once again see their team back on home ice after an impressive 9 out of a possible 14 points on the road. The Kings will need their top snipers to be out in full force. Jeff Carter, after watching him last Saturday night, is primed to make the Predators night a long one. He is constantly on or around the puck and his elusiveness will be a challenge for every Predators defensive pairing.
The Kings will also need to stay out of the penalty box while trying to get the Predators to take some sin-bin time. Momentum will be key in the Kings controlling the play against Nashville and Jonathan Quick will have to rebound soon and start putting the clamps on his goal allowance.
For the Predators to win: Having Martin Erat back in the lineup is huge for the Predators who will be without the services of Patric Hornqvist for a while longer. Erat in his first game back notched one goal and two assists for a three-point night and an interview with NHL Tonight after the game.
The flurry of goals against the top-rated St. Louis Blues needs to continue so that the brunt of winning the game doesn’t rely solely on Pekka Rinne standing on his head for 60 minutes. The key for the Predators will also be to hang onto a lead. Both home games have had Nashville taking a one-goal lead only to have it given up to go into overtime and the shootout where Nashville lost handily both games.
Nashville will need to hold off the Kings and close out the game without the risk of going to yet another shootout. Look for Richard Clune to get under the skin of his former team and hopefully use some of the swagger from scoring his first NHL goal against St. Louis in his favor.
Looking at the Predators/Kings matchup historically…
Last Win in L.A.: 1/31/13 (2-1 SO)
Last Loss in L.A.: 3/17/12 (2-4)
Overtime Record: 2-3-3
Longest Winning Streak: 7 (10/25/08-3/14/10)
Longest Losing Streak: 4 (twice, last 12/10/02-12/11/03)
Most Goals by Nashville: 7 (twice, last 1/8/08, 7-0)
Most Goals by L.A.: 6 (five times, last 12/18/10, 1-6)
Most Goals by Both Teams: 11 (11/2/02, 5-6 OT)
Last Five/Ten Games: 1-4-0 / 3-7-0
Series Notes via the Nashville Predators Media Guide (thanks to the Predators PR department)
3/14/10: Colin Wilson scored at 16:29 of the third period to lift Nashville to a 3-2 victory at Staples Center, its seventh straight win in the series…
3/28/09: Martin Erat posted four assists as the Predators swept the 2008-09 season series vs. L.A. with a 4-3 OT win at Bridgestone Arena…
1/8/08: The Predators set a record for fastest three goals by the club in a 7-0 rout of the Kings at Staples Center…
12/23/06: Nashville recorded a 7-0 victory over Los Angeles at Bridgestone Arena. J-P Dumont notched four points (2g-2a), while Jason Arnott and David Legwand both scored two goals apiece. Legwand (goal) and Paul Kariya (no goal) were both awarded penalty shots – the first time Nashville had been awarded more than one penalty shot in a single game – and Chris Mason stopped 34 shots in the shutout…
11/5/05: Pavol Demitra scored the game-deciding shootout goal in L.A.’s 3-2 shootout win at Staples Center. The shootout loss was the first in Predators history. David Legwand was foiled on a penalty-shot attempt in overtime…
1/13/04: Chris Mason made 33 saves in his first NHL shutout as Nashville and Los Angeles played to the first scoreless tie at Bridgestone Arena. Roman Cechmanek made 29 saves for L.A…
2/1/01: The Predators overcame a three-goal deficit to defeat the Kings 6-4 at the Staples Center…
3/4 & 3/19/00: Both 1999-00 head-to-head meetings between Nashville and Los Angeles at the Staples Center were decided in overtime. On March 4, Jozef Stumpel scored the game winner (0:28) in the Kings’ 3-2 win, and Cliff Ronning scored the game-winner (0:51) in Nashville’s 2-1 win on March 19.