Predators hope they still have Kings' number
Sunday, 03.14.2010 / 9:00 AM
NHL.comPREDATORS (37-26-5) at KINGS (40-22-5)
Last 10 --
Nashville 6-4-0; Los Angeles 5-3-2
Season series --
The Predators have the Kings' number: The Kings are 0-5-1 against the Predators in the past two seasons. This is the third of four meetings this season between the teams. The Kings showed little in a 3-1 loss at home on Nov. 7 that ended an eight-game unbeaten streak. Dan Ellis made 27 saves for the Predators. A first-minute Kings' goal was negated by 59 minutes of dull play on March 4 in Nashville in a 4-2 loss. The teams meet again on March 30 in Nashville.
Big story --
The Kings are second in the Pacific Division and fifth in the Western Conference with 85 points, six ahead of the seventh-place Predators. Nashville, meanwhile, is two ahead of the Calgary Flames and three ahead of the ninth-place Detroit Red Wings. The Predators are the only team in the top eight in the West with a negative goal differential, minus-6. They've allowed 196 and scored 190. The Kings are plus-25. Only two Western teams have won more road games than Nashville (19). The Predators play nine of their final 13 games at home, starting Tuesday against Philadelphia.
The Predators bounced back well Friday in a 1-0 victory over Anaheim after melting down in Thursday's third period against San Jose, when they allowed six goals in an 8-5 loss. The Predators have a world-class defense but they struggle to score. Patric Hornqvist leads with 25 goals but he is extremely streaky and has only 15 assists. Martin Erat leads with 42 points, tied for 93rd in the NHL. Shea Weber is tied for second among NHL defensemen with seven power-play goals and 10th with 20 power-play points.
Kings -- Jonathan Bernier
, the Kings' first-round pick (No. 11) in 2006, was first star in his NHL season debut Friday, stopping six Dallas shots in the shootout for a 2-1 road victory in his first NHL game since 2007. Goalie Jonathan Quick
was in Los Angeles for the birth of his child and will probably play against Nashville. Quick has already set a Kings record with 37 victories while playing in 60 of Los Angeles' first 66 games and 19 of the previous 20. Fredrik Modin, acquired at the trade deadline, scored the Kings only goal in regulation.
Who's hot --
Kings center Anze Kopitar
has 19 points in the past 15 games. Modin has four points in four games. Alexander Frolov has five points in three games. Stickhandling wizard Justin Williams
played 12:15 minutes against Dallas in his return after missing 28 games with a broken leg … Nashville's Jason Arnott has 11 points in 13 games. Erat has seven points in eight games. Colin Wilson has four points in four games.
Injury report --
Newly acquired Nashville defenseman Denis Grebeshkov is out until the end of the month with a lower-body injury.
Stat pack --
The Predators are 21-1-0 when leading after the first period. … Pekka Rinne has 11 shutouts in 100 NHL games. … Weird stat: The Kings are sixth in the NHL with a 20.3 percent power-play efficiency but they are 25th at home, scoring on only 18.3 percent of opportunities. They are 6th on the road at 22.1 percent. … Nashville ranks 27th in killing penalties on the road, but they have been shorthanded for no more than three minutes in each of their past seven games.
Puck Drop --
"It's really hard to defend in this League if you stop skating. In the old days you could hook and hold your way to a 1-0 win. You can't do that any more," Predators coach Barry Trotz, explaining why his team matched Anaheim's 11 third-period shots Friday night.