The Key Three: Feb. 27
Three key aspects of the Kings' 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators
1. FIRST STRIKE, BIG ADVANTAGE
The numbers, to be certain, were pointed out to the Kings in the locker room before the game. The Predators had a minus-9 goal differential in the first period this season, but had a 25-2-3 record when they scored the first goal. Easy translation? If the Predators get an early lead, the other team might as well mosey up the street and enjoy some honkey-tonk music. The Kings threatened early, and Trevor Lewis nearly poked the puck into an open net, but a bad-bounce goal gave Nashville the lead 18:27 into the first period. The Kings did a commendable job after that, but the Predators just don’t give up leads.
2. PREDATORS ON THE HUNT
The Kings had to be pleased with the first few minutes of the first period. They played in the Predators’ end and looked to have some good energy, particularly with the first line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. That vanished quickly, as quickly as it took the Predators to rediscover their game before the midpoint of the period. The Predators are fast and tenacious, and their forecheck will put even the best puck-handling teams to the test. The Kings didn’t make any defensive-zone mistakes that led directly to goals, but Nashville’s aggressive forecheck put the Kings on their heels in the first period.
3. MUSIC-CITY HEARTBREAK FOR QUICK
Darryl Sutter must have figured he had two pretty good options in goal. Jonathan Quick was coming off a shutout of Chicago on Saturday, and Jonathan Bernier had a 5-1-0 career record against the Predators. Nobody could blame Sutter for staying with Quick in a big conference road game, particularly given the amount of fan-generated heat Terry Murray took for starting Bernier in October after Quick’s three consecutive shutouts. Quick wasn’t to blame for either of the Nashville goals, but for whatever reason, he simply can’t beat the Predators. Quick now has an 0-4-1 record in five career starts against Nashville.