The Kings had to deal with many mistakes in Sunday afternoon's game, most of their own doing, but one head-scratching sequence fell on the referee's shoulders.
A goalie-interference call -- which negated a Kings goal -- followed by a non-call at the other end, led to Nashville's third-period game-tying goal, and the Predators added a late goal to beat the Kings 3-2 before a sellout crowd at STAPLES Center.
Patric Hornqvist scored the game-winning, tiebreaking goal with 3:31 remaining, when he scored after a goal-crease scramble, but the game's turning point came earlier.
Just under four minutes into the third period of a 1-1 game, Kings winger Justin Williams appeared to score, but the goal was waved off when officials quickly ruled that Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne had been interfered with by Kings winger Ryan Smyth.
Smyth was not penalized on the play, which was not subject to video review, and the Kings took the lead at the 5:56 mark on Dustin Brown's goal, but it didn't last long.
Just 39 seconds later, Colin Wilson picked up a rebound in front and tied the game 2-2. Goalie Jonathan Quick and the Kings were irate after the goal, claiming interference.
Video review appeared to show Quick being pulled out of position, in the crease, by the stick of Nashville's Martin Erat, but as with the Smyth call, it was not reviewable. Not surprisingly, the exchange didn't sit well with the Kings.
``We don't even touch Rinne,'' Quick said. ``It looked like, on the video, that we didn't touch Rinne, and that's goalie interference. The guy runs into me and takes me across the crease, and that's a goal. Obviously that was a blown call, and no explanation. He wouldn't even explain it to me.''
Brown, as the Kings' captain, said he did get a brief explanation.
``The explanation (from the officials) was that they saw the loose puck on the side of the net but they weren't looking at the goalie,'' Brown said. ``That's all they said.
``The puck is sitting two feet away from our goalie and he doesn't see our goalie getting plowed out of the net. I'm sure it wasn't `plowed,' but his stick definitely made contact with the far pad and pulled him off. That's one of those things where we had to respond after that, and we didn't.''
The Kings fell to 0-3 against Nashville -- and 0-6-1 since the start of last season -- because they weren't able to put together even one complete, strong period.
With the loss, the Kings remain in fifth place in the Western Conference, with 14 games left, but they didn't get help. Fourth-place Phoenix won in a shootout and sixth-place Colorado won, so the Kings are four points behind Phoenix and one head of Colorado.
In all, it was not a great effort for the Kings. Nashville scored its first goal, 4:42 into the game, before the Kings even recorded a shot on goal.
Anze Kopitar's first-period power-play goal tied the game, but the Kings recorded only one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes of the second period and were mostly listless until the third period.
The only consolation for the Kings was their strong special-teams play once again. The Kings scored on their only power play and killed Nashville's only power play. In the seven games since the Olympic break, the Kings are 9-for-22 on the power play, and they're 14-for-14 on the penalty kill in their last five games.
Quick, who became a first-time father early Friday morning, returned to goal for the Kings on Sunday and made 28 saves but got stung early.
Nashville outshot the Kings 6-0 in the first five minutes, and took the lead 4:42 into the game. Steve Sullivan took the puck up the right side of the Kings' zone and fired a wrist shot from a sharp angle. Quick made the stop on the low shot, but the puck deflected in off his body.
The Kings tied the game with a power-play goal at the 8:56 mark, as Kopitar got rewarded after doing a good job of keeping the puck in the zone. Drew Doughty carried the puck down low and had it knocked off his stick, but Michal Handzus picked it up and quickly found Kopitar alone in the slot. Kopitar scored and tied his career high with his 32nd goal of the season.
A scoreless second period was mostly controlled by the Predators, as the Kings recorded only one shot on goal in the first 10 minutes and were outshot 8-4.
``We didn't get out to the start we wanted,'' Smyth said. ``That's unacceptable. We're playing against a team that's behind us in the standings, and they're fighting for a playoff spot. We've got to keep climbing the standings, so it wasn't the effort we wanted.''
The Kings took the lead 5:56 into the third period. Brown carried the puck out of the corner, held onto it and scored on a wrist shot from the middle of the slot.
The lead lasted only 39 seconds, though. Erat took the puck to the net and Quick made a stop but couldn't cover or clear the puck. After a brief scramble in front -- and, in the Kings' eyes, interference -- Wilson scored from close range at the 6:35 mark.
The Predators took the lead back with 3:31 remaining in the third period. Dan Hamhuis shot from well above the top of the left faceoff circle. Quick stopped the shot, but the rebound went free in front of the net. Hornqvist got to it first and tucked it past Quick.
``In this game, you have to be able to protect a one-goal lead,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``That's the way it is. It comes down to critical times, 2-1 games, 3-2 games. That's the number-one criteria for a team, is to be able to protect those leads.''
By that point, the Kings were already steamed at the interference sequence.
``I saw the play on both ends,'' Smyth said. ``If you're going to call it one way, call it the other way. But he made his call based on what he saw, and it didn't work out in our favor.''
LAKings.com's NOTES Kings power-play is 10-26 in the last eight games 38.5%...Kopitar scored his 32 goal of the season tying a career high set in 2007-08...Handzus has 13 points in the last 15 games (5-8=13)...Doughty has points in 8 of his last 10 (2-8=10)...Kings are 21-9-5 in one-goal games...Kings are 6-2-1 in the last nine home games.
1 - 0 NSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 LAK
2 - 2 Tie