Nashville Predators @ Los Angeles Kings Preview: Beat the Champs

USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at 9:30 p.m. Central, the Predators try to salvage a victory out of their three-game road trip by facing a team they've beaten twice already this season.

The Stats

Nashville Predators Los Angeles Kings
Record 9-8-5 17th 10-7-2 19th
GF/Game 2.00 30th 2.53 19th
GA/Game 2.27 5th 2.42 8th
5-on-5 SF/60 22.8 30th 30.6 5th
5-on-5 SA/60 26.7 7th 24.0 3rd
Fenwick Close 45.66 26th 58.98 1st
5-on-5 Save % .929 7th .912 19th
5-on-4 GF/60 4.7 23rd 5.3 17th
# of PP's/Gm 3.18 29th 3.95 11th
4-on-5 GA/60 7.2 24th 5.1 12th
# of PK's/Gm 3.41 4th 4.11 23rd

The Kings are a dominating possession team, which has overcome some horrible goaltending early on to regain their footing and win consistently again. Pekka Rinne will have to be on top of his game, as we can expect him to face a barrage of Los Angeles shots.

The good news for Nashville is that they've beaten the Kings in each of their two previous meetings this season, a shootout win on January 31st and a 3-0 victory at Bridgestone Arena on February 7.

The Preds return home Friday to face the Edmonton Oilers. Find the best ticket deals on the market at TiqIQ!

Los Angeles Kings

After an early-season funk, the Kings are looking like the real defending Stanley Cup champs as they've won seven of their last nine heading into tonight's game.

Over at Jewels From The Crown they've been wondering about L.A.'s power play production, and you have to think they'll be eager to match up against a Nashville penalty kill which has given up 7 goals in 13 shorthanded situations over the last four games. Meanwhile, the gang at Battle of California wants to make up and play nice with Nashville. Oh, wait...

The main guy to watch out for in black tonight is Jeff Carter, whose trade to L.A. gave them that championship-level depth up front that paid off in the 2012 playoffs:


Jeff Carter

#77 / Center / Los Angeles Kings

6-3

200

Jan 01, 1985



GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT
2012 - Jeff Carter 19 11 2 13 -1 10 3 0 4 56 19.6

In 13 career games against Nashville, Carter has 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points.

Nashville Predators

In case you haven't noticed, things haven't gone so swimmingly for the Predators of late, with a 2-5-1 record in their last eight games. Yes, the offense receives the lion's share of the criticism for that, but it's not like things are going great at the other end of the ice, either.

For the Predators, the PK has been a source of pride going back to the early days of the franchise, so the recent struggles there have been especially troubling. When a team goes through a rough patch, returning to first principles can be a way to re-establish the group's identity, so one objective for the Preds to focus on tonight might be not to give up a power play goal.

Josh Cooper reports that Brandon Yip will be out of action tonight, following his 1st period injury against San Jose. In his place, Matt Halischuk will get back in the lineup for the first time since the February 25 game against Dallas. With 22 players on the active roster, and Yip hurt along with Hal Gill, that means the 20-man lineup for tonight is set (barring a roster change in the next few hours).

While the Predators will surely rely on a strong effort from Pekka Rinne tonight, his career numbers against L.A. aren't the greatest:


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

209

Nov 03, 1982



GP MIN W L OTL GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2012 - Pekka Rinne 20 1174 8 7 4 41 2.10 520 479 .921 3

In 12 career games vs. the Kings, Peks has a 7-5-0 record, with a .902 save percentage, 2.65 GAA, and one shutout.

So what's your mood heading tonight's late-night affair? Can the Preds find it within themselves to reverse their recent slide?

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