Can Nashville beat L.A. at home, too? (PHOTO: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Gameday: Nashville Predators at Los Angeles Kings, 3/4/13

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

at LOS ANGELES KINGS

March 4th, 2013
Staples Center
Los Angeles, California
9:30 p.m. CST
TV: FOX Sports Tennessee, NHL Network
Nashville leads season series 2-0-0
Game available in Atlanta market

The Nashville Predators have beaten the Los Angeles Kings twice this season, one by shootout and once by shutout. Since those losses, though, the two teams have taken different trajectories: the Kings have won seven of their last 10 games, while Nashville has lost six of 10.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

(9-8-5, 4th in Central)

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne

Pekka Rinne stopped every shot the San Jose Sharks fired at even strength. (PHOTO: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

As bad as Nashville looked on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, their best player was at the top of his game again and they almost managed to earn a point thanks to a late surge.

Key players

Pekka Rinne (8-7-4, 2.10 GAA, .921 SV%) was back to normal against San Jose on Saturday, stopping 37 of 39 shots and only surrendering goals to the opposing power play. It wasn’t enough to win the game, but it was a heartening sight for Preds fans after watching Pekka struggle the last two weeks.

Others to watch

Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson

Nashville is 7-1-2 when Colin Wilson earns a point. (PHOTO: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports)

In the five games since Colin Wilson’s career-best five-game point streak ended he has only recorded one point, an assist in the 5-4 win over Dallas last Monday. Nashville is 7-1-2 when he tallies a point this season, and 2-7-3 when he doesn’t.

Shea Weber leads the Nashville Predators in shots on goal this season with 51 of them in 22 games. He’s only connecting on 5.1 percent of them, a couple of points below his career average (7.5). He isn’t getting as many quality shots as he did in the Ryan Suter days, and he likely won’t have an easy time getting them against the Kings.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

(10-7-2, 5th in Pacific)

Los Angeles has been a different team since their 3-0 shutout loss in Nashville on February 7th. Before losing to Vancouver on Saturday they had won five straight games.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier has owned the Nashville Predators

Jonathan Bernier is 6-1-0 lifetime against the Nashville Predators. (PHOTO: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports)

Key players

Jonathan Bernier (4-1-0, 1.64, .931) has been a Predator-killer in his seven career games against Nashville, going 6-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .930 save percentage. That’s one loss less all-time than regular starter Jonathan Quick has to Nashville this season alone.

Others to watch

Anze Kopitar (6G-12A) is the only Kings player – and for that matter, the only player in the game tonight – who is averaging one point per game. He’s currently riding a five-game streak where he has posted nine points, and he has points in 13 of his last 16 games. He also wins 55.8 percent of his faceoffs, best on the team.

Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter

Jeff Carter has 11 goals this season. (PHOTO: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

Jeff Carter (11G-2A) has four game-winning goals this season for the Kings, and he wins faceoffs at a 54.5 percent clip. Before being held pointless last game against Vancouver he had scored goals in five consecutive games.

Bottom line

The Predators have been in the bottom third of the league over the last 10 games. Their ever-present offensive woes have continued to plague them, the defensive prowess that carried them in early February has frequently gone MIA, and their special teams only get worse the longer the season goes on. Given how good the Kings have played recently, you have to think they’re the favorites in this one.

Tags: Featured Los Angeles Kings Nashville Predators Popular