By Amanda DiPaolo
The Los Angeles Kings doubled the Nashville Predators 4-2, completing the franchise’s first ever 4-0 road trip. The Kings have gone 11-1-3 in their last 15 road games. Nashville remains in 9th place in the Western Conference.
The Predators started the game off strong and had a shot advantage of 9-1 in the first 10 minutes of the game, but the Kings got on the board first.
Predators forward Martin Erat said the game started out well for Nashville before things fell apart. “We had lots of shots. They didn’t have too much momentum. We always made some little mistake and they had a chance from it and they captitalized on it. We had chances to tie the game and we didn’t.
Dustin Penner, with the puck behind the net, passed to Anze Kopitar who was directly beside Rinne, glove side, and shoveled the puck behind the Finnish netminder for the early lead 11:31 into the game.
Kopitar’s goal was his 25th of the season and the Kings’ third shot on goal.
Nashville tied it up with 2:31 left in the first when Jon Blum took a shot from the point that made its way through traffic. Blum’s goal, his second of the season was unassisted.
While Los Angeles and Nashville exchanged goals in the first period, it was all Kings in the middle frame.
The Kings scored two second period goals, both caused by Nashville turnovers. When Nashville turned over the puck in their offensive end, resulting in Alec Martinez and Dustin Brown with a 2-on-1. Jon Blum was the lone defender but Brown’s cross-ice pass found Martinez who shot it right past Rinne just 2:16 into the second period. Ryan Smyth collected the other assist.
Wayne Simmonds made it 3-1 when he beat Rinne from the left circle. It was Simmonds 13th goal of the season. Alex Ponikarovsky and Kopitar picked up the assists.
Nashville couldn’t get much going in the third period, until JP Dumont scored his 10th goal of the season. Dumont was able to redirect a shot from Cody Franson at the blueline. The second Nashville goal was also the team’s 28th shot. The Predators ended the game with 32 shots to the Kings 18 shots on goal.
The Predators pulled Rinne with a little over a minute to play, but Brown gained possession of the puck and sent it right in on goal scoring the empty net tally.
“It’s tough”, Erat said about losing, adding, ”We lost two points at home. Right now we just have to get back on the horse and win the next game home, just beat Boston.”
Joel Ward has a lower-body injury and did not play Tuesday night. Ward had been on a three-game scoring streak.
The Predators got some help from the out of town scoreboard. Phoenix and San Jose beat Calgary and Dallas keeping Nashville within one point of 8th spot and two points of 7th in the Western Conference standings.
Nashville next plays the Boston Bruins on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena. With every team in the West playing on Thursday, with the exceptinos of Vancouver and Anaheim who face off against one another on Wednesday night, the stakes are high and the Predators should feel pressure to win or potentially face a long and early summer. Game time is at 7pm.
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