Amidst the backdrop of flaming hillsides in Southern California, the Nashville Predators did their own smoke and mirrors act in getting past the much improved Los Angeles Kings last night at the Staples Center. This brought their record to 3-3 for the season’s longest road trip which would be considered a success after having the team come together to play as a group to rally after starting out 0-3.
The Predators were not outplayed by the Kings but it certainly looked like the Kings had more jump for the first 55 minutes of play. For the game the Kings out shot the Preds 34-22. From the outset the majority of the game was played in the Preds Defensive zone. The 12-5 shot margin appeared to be much worse as another 13 shots were blocked or missed. With the 57 shot barrage by San Jose fresh on their mind the Predators closed ranks to only allow 35 to get to Ellis’s blue ice.
After no goals in the first, the teams traded goals in the second. While not officially on the same line for the second game in a row, J P Dumont found Jason Arnott with an open shot in blue ice at the halfway point of the second. That goal was followed with a Michael Handzus tip off of a Kyle Quincy shot a few minutes later.
The game winning goal came deep in the third on an odd play during a power play when J P Dumont was hit in the arm by a Villie Koistenin slap shot and was writing in pain in front of the net. The rebound was picked up by Arnott and passed to an ailing Dumont who found an empty side of the net to score the winning goal. Although elated with the goal, J P looked as if he were ready for the hospital on the celebratory skate to the bench (X-rays proved no break after the game). The final goal was an empty netter to seal the deal with 48 seconds left on what was supposed to be a centering bass by the King’s Dustin Brown. Shea Weber got credit for the goal as he was the last Pred to touch it.
The game was a fast moving up and back skating affair with few penalties called. For the second night in a row the Predators scored on the power play going 1 for 3. They were also perfect on the PK with the Kings only having three opportunities also. One of the biggest positives for the Predators was again in the face off circle with the Preds having a 26-20 advantage. The scrappy Kings our hit the Preds by a 30-22 margin showing the physical nature of the game.
The Predators did not return home immediately after the game as would be expected. With San Jose looming at the Sommet Center Monday night, the team decided to travel on Sunday to give the players additional rest before the crucial next game. With several players returning from injury and the potential now of J P Dumont being slowed by the arm bruise, the Predators will enjoy the three days between games after the Sharks before they travel to Tampa and Carolina next weekend.
Hopefully, the Predators are on the way to finding themselves as a team and are ready to consistently play the way they are capable. The schedule will become more friendly after American Thanksgiving when they have an abundance of home games where they have consistently played better over the years.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass