PREDATORS (1-2-3) at KINGS (2-2-1)
TV: FS-TN, FS-W
Season series: First of three meetings. Los Angeles took three of four from Nashville during its Stanley Cup championship season. Patric Hornqvist of the Predators led all scorers with four goals, while the Kings got at least one goal from 12 different players.
Big story: While the focus during the initial days of the season was on the Kings' potential Cup hangover, the Predators enter Thursday's action as the team desperately in need of two points as they continue on a lengthy road trip that has seen them win just once in four stops.
Predators: Balanced scoring is what Nashville likely will have to rely on to break this slump, especially with Hornqvist out of the lineup for the immediate future. That shouldn't be a problem -- the Predators had 10 players score at least 10 goals last season. But no one is putting the puck in the net with any consistency at the moment, as the team has been shut out in two of the last three games. Captain Shea Weber, in the first year of his mega-deal after putting up 19 goals and 49 points last season, hasn't registered a single point yet.
"I think Webs is a little bit frustrated," coach Barry Trotz said in the Tennessean. "He wants to do so well. It's not that he's doing a lot of bad things, but I think there's a little bit of a level of frustration in his game right now that holds him back a little bit."
Kings: Occasionally forgotten after the juggernaut it resembled during the playoffs is that Los Angeles had to scratch and claw just to make it into the Western Conference's top eight last season, and it's possible 2012-13 will feature more of the same for these Kings. They showed the requisite pluck in Monday's 3-2 shootout win over the Canucks, rallying from two goals down to tie on Slava Voynov's goal with 43 seconds left in regulation and prevailing on Jeff Carter's tally in the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
"We're still not the way we were in June last year, but we're getting there," said Anze Kopitar, who had an assist on Voynov's goal. "It's definitely a step in the right direction. We still have to work on things, and everyone in here thinks we can crank it up a notch. We just want to make sure we build on this win and roll ahead."
Who's hot: In addition to his shootout winner, Carter also scored the first goal for the Kings in regulation on Monday, and he has now tallied in three straight. Jonathan Quick is 2-0-1 in his last three starts and hasn't given up more than two goals in any of them.
Injury report: Hornqvist (knee) is expected to miss 3-4 weeks. … Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene (back) is unlikely to return during the regular season, while defenseman Willie Mitchell (knee) is out indefinitely.
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