NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, March 17th
(All times Eastern)
Nashville Predators (41-21-8) at Los Angeles Kings (34-25-12), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Though both are involved in tight playoff races, the Los
Angeles Kings wouldn't mind swapping spots with the Nashville Predators.
The Kings hope to pick up a much-needed fourth straight victory tonight
against the fifth-seeded Predators.
Los Angeles has won six of its past seven games to give it 80 points on the
season. That has the Kings tied with San Jose and Calgary for ninth place in
the Western Conference, with all three clubs just a point back of Phoenix and
Colorado for the last two playoff positions. The Avs and Sharks are also in
action on Saturday, while the Flames and Coyotes are idle.
The Kings also sit just three points behind the first-place Stars in the
Pacific Division and will look to match their longest winning streak of the
season tonight. Los Angeles also won four straight from Oct. 15-22 and kept
its run going with last night's 4-2 win at Anaheim.
Justin Williams, Alec Martinez and Anze Kopitar all scored in the first
period, while Jonathan Quick made 18 saves as the Kings improved to 22-1-2
when scoring at least three goals this season.
"We're playing pretty good hockey right now, it's desperation time for us,"
Kopitar said. "When you get a couple of goals ahead early, it's easier to
Mike Richards iced things with an empty-net tally, his first goal in 26 games
and only his second tally in his past 36 contests.
The Predators come into this meeting only one point behind the Red Wings for
the fourth seed in the West. They also own a four-point advantage over the
sixth-place Blackhawks, who are off today. Detroit, meanwhile, is visiting San
Nashville did have a three-game win streak stopped on Thursday, losing a 2-1
shootout decision to San Jose. The Predators have gone into the tiebreaker in
both games so far on their four-game swing, besting Phoenix 5-4 to begin the
trek on Monday.
Patric Hornqvist scored and Pekka Rinne made 34 saves against a Sharks club
that forward Martin Erat, who has seven points in six games after logging an
assist, noted was also desperate.
"They put a lot of pressure on you," he said. "But we defended well and we got
a point from them."
The Predators did lose forward Paul Gaustad to an upper-body injury in the
loss, one that may sideline him for a few games. Defensemen Kevin Klein and
Roman Josi remain questionable due to upper-body issues.
The Kings have won two of three over the Predators this season, including a
4-3 victory in the previous encounter in Los Angeles on Nov. 8. They have won
six of the past eight meetings with Nashville overall, but the Preds have come
away with a win in six of their last eight trips to LA.
03/17 10:33:19 ET