Rinne Pulled, Preds Lose Fourth Straight Game


By Amanda DiPaolo

With the second worse offense in the NHL (New Jersey has scored two less and has played three more games), the Nashville Predators were no competition for the offensively explosive Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. During a game that saw Ryan Smyth play his 1000th career contest and score his fourth of the season, Pekka Rinne get pulled and the Kings penalty kill remain perfect at home, the Kings won their sixth straight game, 4-1, at Staples Center.

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 14: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings shoots on net for a power-play goal against goaltender Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators in the first period during their NHL game at the Staples Center on March 14, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Kopitar beat Rinne Saturday night to open up scoring against Nashville. The Kings rolled over the Predators. (Photo: Yardbarker)

Jonathon Quick did not play in goal for Los Angeles. Instead, the Kings went with Jonathon Bernier. This move made sense. His only career shutout came against Nashville last year in March and it was also the only game the Kings won against Nashville last year.

It didn’t take long for the Kings to get on the scoreboard Saturday night. Anze Kopitar scored at 4:11 of the first period. The Kings would take a 2-0 lead when Dustin Brown scored with 7 minutes left to play in the first.

Joel Ward got called for tripping Kopitar with a little under 6 minutes to play. The Kings have struggled at home on the power play. Before the game, Los Angeles was 1 for 18 on the power play at Staples Center. The Kings would not improve and would end the night 1 for 21.

During their first power play, the Kings had a great opportunity to make the game 3-0. Drew Doughty split the defense, sent the puck over to Ryan Smyth and he shot into what should have been an empty net, with Rinne seconds earlier preparing for a Doughty shot on goal on the other side of the net. But somehow Rinne was able to stretch his long body over the crease and got the glove out on the puck for an impressive glove save.

With the strong penalty kill and impressive glove save, it looked as though the bleeding had stopped and the Predators would get back into the game, but the promise of turning things around never came to fruition.

At the 7:00 minute mark of the second period, Smyth scored his 4th of the year. Smyth had 70 of his closest friends and family present to take in the game. Second period scoring wasn’t finished. Jared Stoll would add another to make it 4-0 with 9:13 to play in the middle frame. Rinne was screened by Ryan Smyth and had no sight on the puck when it went in the net.

Four goals on 22 shots was enough to get Rinne pulled. Anders Lindback took over for Rinne.

The Kings have killed off every penalty at home before the game on Saturday and the Predators would not end their perfect streak. Nashville did have a couple good chances on Steve Sullivan and Colin Wilson attempts. With Bernier out of position, Doughty sprawled out in the crease and blocked the 2 scoring chances.

Nashville did get on the board. With a little over 2 minutes to play in the third, Shane O’Brien scored his first goal as a Nashville Predator to break Bernier’s bid to get a second shutout against Nashville.

Nashville has now lost four games in a row and have to play again Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. Game time is 7 pm CT.

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Tags: Anders Lindback Anze Kopitar Dustin Brown Los Angeles Kings Nashville Predators NHL Pekka Rinne Shane O'Brien