NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Tuesday, March 30th
(All times eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (42-27-6) at Nashville Predators (44-27-6), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - When March began, the Los Angeles Kings seemed like a lock
to snap their eight-season playoff absence. A season high-tying losing streak
later, and things don't seem very guaranteed for the team anymore.
The Kings will attempt to halt a four-game overall skid, as well as a string
of seven consecutive losses to the Nashville Predators, when they visit the
Music City and Bridgestone Arena tonight.
Los Angeles went into the Olympic break having won 10 of its last 12 and then
picked up a victory in its first game after the event on March 2. That was not
a sign of things to come, as the club is just 5-7-2 this month and has won
back-to-back games just once since the end of the Olympics.
The Kings fell to 0-3-1 over their last four games after a 3-2 setback to the
Minnesota Wild on Monday, matching the season-high skid they posted from Dec.
17-30. A loss tonight would give Los Angeles its first five-game slide since
Oct. 25-Nov. 4, 2008.
Rookie Scott Parse notched his first career two-goal game and Jonathan Quick
made 17 saves on 20 shots faced for the Kings, who are just 2-for-18 on the
power play over their last three games while going just 10-for-18 on the
penalty kill in that same span.
"I thought we played a decent game [Monday]," Kings forward Wayne Simmonds
said. "We can't panic. We've got to stay composed and believe in ourselves."
Los Angeles has fallen to seventh in the Western Conference, a point up on
eighth-place Colorado and five ahead of Calgary, which is ninth. The Kings
also trail the Detroit Red Wings by just one point for the sixth spot with
seven games to play.
Quick has struggled to a 3.69 goals-against average over his last five starts
and is 0-3-1 lifetime versus the Preds. Quick will receive a break tonight, as
the Kings are expected to start Jonathan Bernier, who was recalled on an
emergency basis yesterday because regular backup Erik Ersberg has a back
Bernier made his first and only start of the year, as well as the fifth of his
career, on March 12 in a 29-save victory over Dallas. He has never before
The 21-year-old and 11th overall pick of the 2006 draft will try to give the
Kings their first win over the Predators since March 13, 2008. Los Angeles is
0-6-1 versus Nashville since and has lost three straight at Bridgestone Arena.
Unlike the Kings, the Predators come into this game on fire. They bested the
Panthers, 3-2, in overtime last night to improve to 8-1-1 over their last 10
games. That has Nashville three points ahead of the Red Wings for the fifth
spot in the East as well as five points back of first-place Chicago in the
Central Division. Nashville, though, has played three more games than the
Francis Bouillon had the game-winner one minute into overtime after he
converted a pass from Marcel Goc into his third goal of the season.
"I had an opportunity to create some offense," Bouillon said. "I saw Goc with
the puck, he gave me a great pass and I took a good shot."
Nashville's Patric Hornqvist, the 230th overall pick of the 2005 draft, scored
his 30th goal of the season after having just two goals and seven points in 28
games last year. David Legwand also scored to snap a 34-game goal drought and
Dan Ellis made 27 saves in his first start since March 11.
Pekka Rinne should be back in net tonight after going 7-1-1 over nine straight
starts since Ellis' last appearance. Rinne posted a 1.40 GAA and four shutouts
over that span and is 4-0-0 with a 2.46 GAA in his career versus the Kings.
Jason Arnott (head), Martin Erat (lower body) and Joel Ward (upper body) all
remain out for the Predators.
03/30 10:48:52 ET