Nashville Predators top Kings 4-2, win 3rd straight

The Nashville Predators earned their third straight victory Thursday night by using a whole-team effort to keep the play moving into the offensive end for most of the game. The Preds outshot the L.A. Kings 32-22, including a 15-4 advantage in the second period when they took command of the contest.

Keep an eye on the video widget in the right-hand sidebar for highlights, and follow after the jump for reaction and advanced even-strength statistics...

This was an odd game in that while the Predators dominated the 5-on-5 play fairly handily, Jonathan Quick's work in the Los Angeles net kept things close. Pekka Rinne also played well for the Predators, as he stopped 20 of 22 Kings shots, but Quick is the reason Los Angeles even had a chance in this game.

He also had a hand in their demise, however, as his mishandling of the puck led to J.P. Dumont's opening goal for Nashville, a tap-in to a wide-open net.

For the Preds, the power play connected once again (given five opportunities), after looking lost for much of the night. As Martin Erat cut out from behind the net, he fed a sharp crossing pass to Jason Arnott who one-timed it up high for the score. With four goals in his last 10 games, is the captain starting to heat up? I have to wonder if the Olympic break helped clear up the elbow problems that plagued him back in January and February.

While there is much to praise about tonight's win, there are also some cautionary tales before the guys head up to play Detroit tomorrow. As they held a lead in the third period, there were two awful examples of players not shooting the puck in favor of making an extra pass, and they almost led to ruin. Jerred Smithson had a 2-on-1 shorthanded break and opted to pass, turning the puck over in the process, and shortly after that Martin Erat carried the puck down to about 3 feet outside of the crease and had Quick scrambling, only to opt instead to pass across to a cutting attacker, resulting in a deflected shot wide.

As Coach Horachek said in a practice many moons ago, "no more fancy dancin', SHOOT THE PUCK!". Especially with a late lead to protect, putting puck on net is always good policy. The worst case scenario is that the goalie makes the stop and holds for a faceoff, allowing for a change and fresh teammates to come on the ice.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest!

The Preds play their next home game Sunday afternoon, March 7 against the Vancouver Canucks. Remember, OtF readers can take advantage of our special offer on discounted Nashville Predators tickets.

Notice how the Even Strength ice times are relatively low tonight; the Preds enjoyed nearly 10 minutes of power play time tonight, and when combined with a few penalties of their own, that broke up the 5-on-5 action to a large extent. Thus, the line of Tootoo-O'Reilly-Wilson didn't get as much ice time as they might otherwise.

That said, the whole-team effort I referred to earlier is on full display here, as almost every player on the team came out with a positive Corsi raiting. Patric Hornqvist fired pucks on net repeatedly, and the centers did a good job pushing the play up-ice and keeping the L.A. defenders on their heels.

Speaking of defenders, the Nashville defense generally did a great job recovering pucks in the neutral zone and turning things around. The only downside? Guess which pair of defensmen got burned for both Kings goals...

 Even Strength Individual Totals Team Totals While Player Is On Ice
 Player Pos EV TOI Shots Shts Blkd Missed Shts Blocks SOG For SOG Ag SOG +/- Tot SF Tot SA Corsi
 Joel Ward R 9:12 2 0 1 1 8 4 4 18 10 8
 Marcel Goc C 8:57 2 0 0 0 12 7 5 14 7 7
 Martin Erat R 8:06 2 0 1 0 13 7 6 18 7 11
 Steve Sullivan L 8:01 1 1 0 0 6 5 1 14 8 6
 J P Dumont R 7:50 3 1 1 0 5 6 -1 14 9 5
 David Legwand C 7:49 0 3 1 1 8 3 5 18 9 9
 Jason Arnott C 7:43 2 0 1 0 9 6 3 18 9 9
 Patric Hornqvist R 7:42 6 0 0 0 13 5 8 15 5 10
 Jerred Smithson R 7:22 2 0 0 0 5 2 3 9 8 1
 Cal O'Reilly C 5:17 0 0 0 0 0 4 -4 2 5 -3
 Jordin Tootoo R 4:58 0 1 2 0 3 3 0 7 4 3
 Colin Wilson C 4:49 1 1 0 0 1 3 -2 3 4 -1
 Denis Grebeshkov D 10:31 1 0 3 0 7 9 -2 15 11 4
 Kevin Klein D 10:23 2 1 0 0 13 8 5 20 12 8
 Francis Bouillon D 9:52 0 1 1 1 7 7 0 14 9 5
 Shea Weber D 9:36 1 0 0 1 9 3 6 16 7 9
 Dan Hamhuis D 9:21 2 0 0 1 12 8 4 19 12 7
 Ryan Suter D 8:42 1 0 2 0 8 3 5 15 7 8
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