Late second-period goals lift Predators past Kings
LOS ANGELES – Good goaltending, luck and the ability to take advantage of a mistake is often going to lead a team to victory.
Unfortunately for the Kings, that was a description of Nashville, which Thursday defeated the Kings 3-1 before 17,730 at Staples Center.
The Predators got goals by Viktor Arvidsson in the first period and by Craig Smith and Colton Sissons in a span of 2:27 late in the second period to emerge victorious.
It was how they got them that said a lot about the season the Kings have had.
Nashville took a 1-0 lead on Arvidsson’s 29th of the season at 15:04 of the first period. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne had just made a tremendous save of an Ilya Kovalchuk shot at the end of a Kings power-play when the Predators’ Ryan Johansen and Arvidssongot loose on a 2-on-1 break.
Skating down the right side, Johansen passed left to Arvidsson, who fired the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Rinne made 25 saves, Quick had 31.
Austin Wagner tied the game for the Kings with his 10th of the season at 2:54 of the second period.
The Predators went back in front when Smith scored his 19th at 15:32 of the period for a 2-1 lead. Smith was on the right side of a rush led by Colton Sissons, who took a shot that was saved by Quick. But the puck went into the air and Smith – Johnny on the spot – smacked it into the net.
Then, just about 2 1/2 minutes later – at 17:59 – Kings defenseman Alec Martinez had his cross-ice pass intercepted by Sissons near center ice. Sissons moved in on Quick and shot the puck past him for a 3-1 Nashville lead. The goal was unassisted. It was No. 12 forSissons.
That’s all Nashville needed to send the Kings (25-37-8, 58 points) to their 14th loss in 16 games.
The Predators (40-27-5, 85 points) solidified their hold on second place in the Central Division of the Western Conference.
Kings captian Anze Kopitar noted the team, which had not played since Sunday, got off to a slow start but picked it up in the second period. He showed his frustration when talking about the second, which spelled doom for the Kings.
“We had our fair share of chances in the second,” he said. “And they go down on a pretty much – I mean, not so much now – but as it developed, a pretty much harmless rush and it bounces off a few guys and it goes in.
“Then shortly after, they get another one and that’s about it.”
The good news was Wagner hitting double figures in goals in the 50th game of his rookie season. His tally was assisted by Trevor Lewis and Matt Roy and was made possible with some good forechecking.
“Great play by (Lewis),” Wagner said. “(Kyle) Clifford was the one that started it all by taking a hit to make a play, so that’s our job, is to forecheck.”
For Roy, it was his first NHL point in his 13th game.
Like Kopitar, interim coach Willie Desjardins said he thought his team got off to a slow start. He bemoaned doing nothing with two power-play opportunities in the first period.
“We had a couple of opportunities in the first period, power plays, that we just didn’t generate enough,” he said. “I didn’t think we were hungry enough the first. I thought we had a better second, though. I thought the second we came with more energy.
“And I thought in the third, we were trying to play with energy, too. But they’re a pretty good team. Their (defensemen) are hard to handle.”
The Predators snapped a two-game losing streak; they had lost four of six.
“It’s probably the best game we’ve played in recent weeks,” Sissons said. “It feels good to put a complete effort in from start to finish and to just have everybody step up and play their best game.”
Author: Robert Morales