By Amanda DiPaolo
Nashville Predators 20-13-6
Los Angeles Kings 22-16-1
After Wednesday night’s win in Anaheim, the Predators have moved into sixth spot in the Western Conference, for now. The Kings are just one point behind Nashville but rest in 10th place in the West. With the standing so tight that 13th place Columbus is just two points back from being tied for eighth, the time is now for Nashville to beat the Kings.
Los Angeles has dominated both games played this season against Nashville. On December 18th, the Predators lost on home ice in regulation for the first time since losing to St. Louis in October. The score was 6-1 and it was also the first game since November 26 that Nashville didn’t collect a point going 8-02 in that span. On November 6th, Nashville visited the Staples Center and lost 4-1.
The Kings have lost four in a row, so they will come out flying Thursday night on home ice where they have an impressive 13-5-1 record to avoid making it five straight games.
Nashville is riding a three-game winning streak, after losing five in a row themselves.
While the Predators are lead by Shea Weber in points with only 21, the Kings are lead by highly skilled forward Anze Kopitar. But the Predators have a number of players on hot streaks in regard to picking up points and and the defense and goaltending is among the league leaders.
Patric Hornqvist has scored in each of the three last games and so has Sergei Kostitsyn. In fact Kostitsyn is having a career season and has proven he belongs in the NHL and can be a team player. He has points in four straight and has collected 15 points in his last 16 games since his ice-time was increased dramatically once placed on a line with Marcel Goc and Martin Erat (and now whoever can fill the other role with all Nashville’s injuries, last night Hornqvist). Kostitsyn has 19 points on the season. With nine goals, he has tied his previous career high set in 2007-08.
Both teams are likely to go with their backups tonight. Anders Lindback will give Pekka Rinne a rest after stopping 40 of 41 shots last night. Jonathon Bernier is a perfect 3-0-0 against Nashville with a .978 save percentage against the Predators.
The Predators road trip will continue after Thursday’s game with Nashville heading to San Jose. The Sharks started the season pretty shaky and did not look like the team they were for the last several seasons, after finally making it to the Conference final in last season’s playoffs. However, San Jose now sits in fourth place in the standings, but five back of division leading Dallas.
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