Kings 4, Predators 2: Down to a dozen

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 15: Jonathon Blum #7 of the Nashville Predators shoots the puck past teammate Sergei Kostitsyn #74 and Jarret Stoll #28 of the Los Angeles Kings for a goal on March 15, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After securing two victories in the opening games of a critical home stand, the Nashville Predators fell short tonight against the Los Angeles Kings, who have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL lately, particularly on the road. Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier continued his dominance of the Preds, pushing his record against Nashville to 4-1-0 by stopping 30 of 32 shots. 

The loss keeps the Preds from moving ahead in the Western Conference standings, leaving them in 9th place, one point behind the Calgary Flames who host Phoenix in a late game tonight.

Follow after the jump for more on this frustrating loss...

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, or see the Preds take on the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night. Take the OTF Discount to save money on Nashville Predators tickets for these, or any other home game!

Let's begin with the video highlights and Kings vs Predators boxscore...

A few quick notes...

  • It just wouldn't be a key Predators game without another surprise injury, right? This time it was Joel Ward sitting out with a "lower body injury" despite taking the pre-game warmup and even doing an interview with the FS-TN crew about his hot goal-scoring of late. According to Barry Trotz in the post-game press conference, it was a situation that developed over the course of the day and while Ward hoped to play, it was determined after the warmup that he couldn't.
  • Cody Franson was definitely catching the criticism for that first goal for L.A. He got rubbed out in the corner and Anze Kopitar drove immediately to the net, getting open for the short-side stuff before Franson could recover. That said, it was an odd icing call which led to that defensive zone faceoff on the previous play it looked like one of the Preds tipped the puck in the neutral zone.
  • After that Kings goal, it looked eerily like another one of those "dominate the shot totals, but not the scoreboard" games as the Preds had a 10-3 edge at the time. Jon Blum's score to knot things up at 1-1 kept things from getting out of hand.
  • That good feeling didn't last long into the 2nd period, however, as the Kings smoothly executed a 2-on-1 after a turnover in the offensive end by Nashville. Blum was the defender there and really left Pekka Rinne out to dry by diving for, and failing to stop, the passer Dustin Brown.
  • I think Josh Cooper summed up this one best - "This is why LA is the worst match up for Nashville -- big, strong forwards who can skate and finish." Guys like Brown, Kopitar, Penner, Smyth, Ponikarovsky and Simmonds just made life miserable once they entered the zone.
  • Earlier this season, however, Seth pointed out something that really stood out tonight. The Kings really don't apply much forechecking pressure, they prefer to sit back and capitalize on turnovers further back before committing to the attack. Once they get moving with the puck, however, look out.
  • The 4th line chipped in to make things interesting late in the 3rd, as Halischuk's forechecking led to a point shot from Cody Franson, which J.P. Dumont was able to tip in. J.P. did have a couple bad moments earlier in the game, but if they can get him going at all, it could provide a bit of scoring touch that Nashville needs desperately.
  • Once the Kings got their lead, however, they were able to clog things up and the Preds just couldn't create many decent scoring chances. Again, score effects contribute heavily to the Corsi numbers you see below. L.A. just didn't press the attack much while melting the clock.
  • A dozen games left, 80 points so far. If the Preds are going to make the playoffs, they're going to need a record of something like 7-3-2 to make it there. That's entirely possible, but they face a tough trio of games coming up; Boston comes in Thursday, Detroit on Saturday, and then a roadie to Buffalo on Sunday with no rest. It's do or die, boys.
 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
 David Legwand C 19:21 3 1 1 1 12 9 +3 22 16 +6
 Martin Erat R 18:24 3 0 0 0 11 9 +2 21 16 +5
 Patric Hornqvist R 17:21 0 1 1 0 11 7 +4 20 12 +8
 Mike Fisher C 15:56 1 2 0 2 12 5 +7 18 9 +9
 Colin Wilson C 15:01 2 0 0 0 8 5 +3 13 7 +6
 Sergei Kostitsyn L 14:38 1 0 0 0 10 5 +5 14 9 +5
 Jordin Tootoo R 14:16 0 2 0 1 5 3 +2 10 8 +2
 Nick Spaling C 14:02 5 1 0 0 7 2 +5 11 6 +5
 Jerred Smithson R 12:52 0 0 0 0 3 2 +1 6 6 0
 J.P. Dumont R 9:09 1 0 1 0 4 2 +2 5 6 -1
 Blake Geoffrion C 8:33 2 0 0 0 6 1 +5 6 7 -1
 Matt Halischuk R 8:04 1 0 0 0 3 2 +1 3 7 -4
 Shea Weber D 23:16 2 2 2 0 13 7 +6 23 15 +8
 Ryan Suter D 23:07 3 2 0 2 12 5 +7 22 13 +9
 Cody Franson D 18:51 2 0 0 2 10 8 +2 15 14 +1
 Shane O`Brien D 16:22 2 0 1 1 8 2 +6 13 7 +6
 Kevin Klein D 14:54 1 0 1 1 8 5 +3 12 10 +2
 Jonathon Blum D 14:50 1 0 1 0 9 7 +2 13 13 0
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