Predators, Kings tangle for playoff positioning in West
KINGS (42-27-6) at PREDATORS (44-27-6)
Los Angeles 3-5-2; Nashville 8-1-1
Fourth and final meeting of the regular season. Nashville will be going for the season sweep, having already defeated Los Angeles twice this month. Patric Hornqvist, who leads the team with 30 goals, scored the game-winner with 3:31 remaining in the most recent matchup on March 14. Ten different players have scored a goal for the Predators against the Kings.
Nashville appears to be in good shape, sitting fifth in the Western Conference with 94 points as play begins Tuesday. However, the Predators need to keep winning to ensure themselves the highest seeding possible, because they have also played the most games of any NHL team. After facing the Kings, they will have only four regular-season games remaining. Los Angeles, meanwhile, will be looking to snap a four-game skid.
In an extremely competitive conference, Los Angeles appears to be limping toward the finish. The Kings have their first playoff berth since 2002 in sight, but they will need to win a few more games to secure it. The ninth-place Flames are only five points in the rear-view mirror, though the Kings have a game in hand that will be used up Tuesday. They fell 3-2 to the Wild on Monday night.
Lineup & Notes:
» Mar 30, 2010: Coming Soon
"We didn't make the best plays out there sometimes, but I guess the best way to put it, not just tonight but in general, is that I can live with 100-percent effort and mistakes, compared to no effort and no mistakes," captain Dustin Brown
said. "Sometimes you've got to lose some games that you're supposed to win. Right now, we've got to forget about it."
After squeaking out a point in an 11-round shootout loss to Detroit on Saturday, Nashville was able to do better on Monday. Trailing 2-1 late in the third period in Florida, the Predators forced overtime on a goal by Hornqvist and won 3-2 when Francis Bouillon scored a minute into 4-on-4 play. The Predators are three points ahead of the Red Wings and will pay a visit to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday.
"We gave up two goals there. They were all over us a little bit. But we squeaked one out," said David Legwand, who also scored. "Hornqvist got a big goal and in the overtime we knew we could go for it a little bit against an Eastern Conference team. We needed two points and we got it."
Who's hot: Scott Parse
had both goals on Monday for the Kings, who have scored only four goals in their last three games. … Hornqvist has seven goals and three assists in his last 11 games for the Predators. Pekka Rinne -- expected to start Tuesday after Dan Ellis beat the Panthers -- stopped all 38 shots by the Wings through regulation and overtime. Although he lost, because what happens in the shootout doesn't affect a player's official stats, Rinne was credited with his seventh shutout of the season.
Los Angeles goalie Erik Ersberg
is battling a back injury. Jonathan Bernier
was recalled to back up Jonathan Quick
on Monday and is expected to get the start in Nashville. Defenseman Randy Jones
also missed Monday's game with an elbow injury.
Nashville forwards Martin Erat (lower body), Joel Ward (upper body) and Jason Arnott (head) were all out of the lineup Monday. Defenseman Denis Grebeshkov (lower body) is also sidelined.
The Kings have yielded six power-play goals in their last two games. … Bouillon's goal was the 24th of his career and fifth game-winner. He has played in 561 games over parts of 10 seasons for the Predators and Canadiens.
Bernier stopped 29 of 30 shots and all six shootout attempts in his only start this season, as Los Angeles won 2-1 in Dallas on March 12. Prior to that, his NHL experience consisted of four games as a teenager early in the 2007-08 season. Bernier won his first start against Anaheim, part of a season-opening, two-game series in London, England. After losing his next three, he was returned to his junior squad where he played most of the remainder of that season.