Pekka Rinne has been perfect at even strength for two straight games now. (PHOTO: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Los Angeles Kings at Nashville Predators, 2/7/13

LOS ANGELES KINGS

at NASHVILLE PREDATORS

February 7th, 2013
Bridgestone Arena
Nashville, Tennessee
7:00 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee
Game available in Atlanta market
Nashville leads season series 1-0

After seven consecutive games on the road, the Nashville Predators return home for one night to take on the Los Angeles Kings.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(4-2-3, 3rd in Central)

Nashville has only played two games at home this season, both shootout losses to Central Division rivals to kick off the season. They finished with nine points on their seven-game road trip thanks to a three-game winning streak that kicked off with a shootout win in L.A. on January 31st.

Key players

Pekka Rinne (3-2-3, 2.02 GAA, .923 SV%) has been the number one reason for the Nashville Predators’ success of late. He’s been perfect at even strength for three straight games and has only allowed one power-play goal in each of them. The Preds can’t count on a six-goal outburst every night, so a top-flight Pekka performance is the cornerstone of the Nashville game plan.

After sitting out one game with a lower-body injury earned in practice, Martin Erat came back with a goal and two assists in the win against St. Louis. He now has seven points (3G-4A) in eight games to make him the team’s leading scorer.

Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber

Weber’s defensive play has remained excellent even as he has gone pointless. (PHOTO: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Others to watch

His defensive play is still as good as ever, but Nashville Predators fans are still waiting for captain Shea Weber (0G-0A) to break through. Home would be the ideal place for a Weber streak-breaker.

Colin Wilson (1G-4A) was one of the stars against St. Louis with the first three-assist game of his career. It was a just reward after the game-by-game improvement the Preds have seen from Wilson so far this season. Nobody else on this team puts such consistent pressure on the opposition as Wilson right now.

Sergei Kostitsyn (1G-2A) has looked better since bagging the shootout winner against the Kings last week. A strong performance from him tonight would go a long way toward helping the Preds win their fourth straight.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

(3-3-2, 5th in Pacific)

The defending Stanley Cup champions have had a pretty rough go of it so far this season, particularly the goaltenders. They broke a two-game losing streak in Columbus two nights ago and will be looking to avenge last week’s shootout loss to the Preds at Staples Center.

Jonathan Quick takes on the Nashville Predators

It’s been a rough start for Jonathan Quick. (PHOTO: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Key players

Jonathan Quick (3-2-2, 2.62 GAA, .897 SV%) won the Conn Smythe with a career-making performance in the Stanley Cup Finals last season. He probably wishes he could go back and bottle that experience – anything to improve on a season where seemingly everything has gone wrong. Another pedestrian showing from Quick could doom the Kings in Nashville.

Jeff Carter had a hat trick against the Nashville Predators

Jeff Carter is a dangerous man on the ice. (PHOTO: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

Others to watch

All Jeff Carter (4G-0A) does is score goals – this season at least. He picked up his latest against his old teammates in Columbus two nights ago. Carter had a hat trick in Nashville when he still played for the Jackets last season, so the Preds need to keep an eye on him whenever he hits the ice.

On a team loaded with weapons, Anze Kopitar (3G-2A) might be the most dangerous one. It was his goal that gave the Kings their last lead in the shootout loss to Nashville last week. He’s capable of scoring at any time.

Bottom line

After seven straight games without a home crowd to boost them, the Nashville Predators will finally regain their home-ice advantage tonight. In their last two home games they didn’t do much to fire the crowd up. After a seven-game road trip the sea of gold in Bridgestone should be a welcome sight. Can the Bridgestone faithful inspire a fourth straight victory? Or will the Kings get revenge for their shootout loss?

Tags: Los Angeles Kings Nashville Predators