By Amanda DiPaolo
Los Angeles Kings 39-25-5
Nashville Predators 35-24-10
A win by the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night would put the team back into the 8th and final playoff position in the Western Conference. But their opponent, the Los Angeles Kings are on fire having gone 10-1-3 in their last 14 contests on the road. The Kings also lead the season series against the Predators 2-1.
The Kings, like the Predators are fighting for a playoff spot, but Los Angeles has a 3 point cushion over the ninth place Predators. While both teams are playing well, someone’s winning streak will be cut short on Tuesday night. Los Angeles has won three straight. Their last win was a dramatic 3-2 win in Dallas Sunday afternoon. With a 2-1 lead late in the third period, Dallas scored to tie the game with under a minute remaining in regulation. It looked like overtime was looming, but the Kings scored a go-ahead goal with only 20 seconds left in the third period for the win.
Nashville has won two straight including a decisive 4-0 win over the Minnesota Wild last Thursday and a 4-2 victory over Colorado on Saturday night. The Predators are 4-1-2 in their last 7 games, but have not won three straight since January 18-23 when they beat Phoenix, Colorado and Edmonton all on the road. The Predators are, however, on a three-game home winning streak and are looking to win a fourth in a row at Bridgestone Arena, something they have not done since December.
The Kings are a healthy group with only Scott Parse out of the lineup after having hip surgery. The Predators continue to play with several key components out of the lineup, including offensive threats Matthew Lombardi, Steve Sullivan and Cal O’Reilly as well as Marcel Goc.
In light of the injuries, two veteran forwards have led the offensive charge. Martin Erat and David Legwand are getting a lot of attention as of late for their points production. Erat has 25 points in his last 25 games and Legwand has added 14 points in 15 games.
But Predators Captain Shea Weber continues to not only lead the defense, but steadily contributes to the offense as well.
Weber’s first period goal Saturday night against Colorado was not only his 15th goal of the season. The goal also put Weber in a tie with Kimmo Timonen for first on the franchise’s goals by a defenseman list with 79 tallies. What took Timonen 573 games to achieve Weber was able to do in 389.
In Weber’s young career, his 79 goals are matched with his 130 assists for 209 points, which ranks second to Timonen’s 301 points in a Predators sweater.
Weber’s second half of the season has been an impressive one to date, and he leads all defensemen in the League with the most goals scored since January 1, 2011, with 10. Weber has 14 points in his last 20 games, including 7 goals and 7 assists.
With one more goal, Weber takes over the lead in goals by a defenseman since the start of the 2006-07 season. Both Weber and Mike Green have 79 goals during their careers.
Tuesday night’s game at Bridgestone Arena will be a testament to the strenth and character of a team that is battling through adversity at a time when many other contending teams are heading into the final few weeks of the regular season with a healthy squad.
Including Tuesday, only 10 home games remain before the playoffs begin. Tickets remain for the game and can be purchased at the box office or online. The puck drop is 7pm
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