LOS ANGELES, CA – The trouble with falling behind early is the workload that is needed to recover, to rebound from those early troubles. For the Kings against the Nashville Predators tonight, they found themselves battling a two-goal deficit throughout most of the contest. In what was a rather lethargic first 40 minutes played by the Kings tonight, the final 20 minutes didn’t prove to be enough to erase their early miscues and mistakes.
The Kings were without arguably their most electrifying forward tonight in Jeff Carter, who sat out his first game with an undisclosed lower body injury. The Kings had the help of the recently called up Tyler Toffoli though, who played in his first NHL game this season.
Carter Hutton started in the crease for Nashville, and successfully took upon a flurry of Kings shots, stopping 35 of the Kings’ 38 pucks put on net.
A lack of discipline and a struggling penalty kill unit haunted the Kings in the first period, as the Predators buried both of their first period goals during man-advantage situations. The Kings finished the first frame strong, however, as Anze Kopitar scored his third goal of the season just :17 seconds after Nasvhille recorded their second goal, with just :37.2 seconds remaining in the period.
Unfortunately, Kopitar’s late first period goal didn’t transition into a momentum boost to start the second period, as the Kings failed to develop any quality scoring chances, and surrendered yet another goal to the Predators midway through the second frame.
Whatever was said in the Kings’ dressing room during the second intermission definitely gave this roster a wake-up call, as they came out looking better and much more determined than they had all night.
The third period was a different ballgame. Dustin Brown tipped in his third goal of the season to cut the deficit to one goal midway through the period, and just 1:37 later, Mike Richards buried home a rebound from a Tyler Toffoli shot to tie the game at three.
The comeback was short-lived, however, as Nashville’s David Legwand slammed home a rebound past Jonathan Quick to put the Predators up 4-3 with under four minute remaining in the contest.
A last-ditch effort, with Jonathan Quick pulled from his crease, presented a flurry of shots and a couple of golden opportunities for the Kings – but to no avail. Their slow start proved to be too much to overcome; tonight at least.
WELCOME BACK: Darryl Sutter didn’t hesitate to get Tyler Toffoli involved in his first game back in a Kings uniform. Toffoli saw 19:23 of time on the ice, the fourth-most of any forward on the roster tonight. Toffoli had the most shots (6) of any forward tonight, and recorded an assist on the Kings’ third goal.
EMPTY SHOTS: The Kings unloaded in the shot department once again tonight, tossing 38 pucks on Nashville’s goaltender. Much of the game, though, the Kings were out of sync, with no rebounds or second-chance opportunities developing from their shots.
QUICK FIX: Jonathan Quick uncharacteristically gave up a handful of goals, on a low number of shots. The Nashville Predators had just 17 shots on Quick tonight, and put four of them past the Kings netminder. For a goaltender, sometimes it’s harder to stay sharp with the fewer shots you see.
FIRST-AID: Forward Jarret Stoll left tonight’s contest in the second period for further evaluation on an undisclosed injury suffered during the game. No timetable for his return, or details on the supposed injury, have surfaced.
PERSONAL POINTS: Anze Kopitar has 10 points (3G, 7A) in his last 10 games. Justin Williams has nine points (3G, 6A) in his last seven games. Mike Richards has six points (3G, 3A) in his last six games.