After an early, exploratory back-and-forth, the Kings drew first blood less than four minutes into the game, with Adrian Kempe scoring another goal and Anze Kopitar adding another point. Colton Sissons was goaded into taking a cross-checking penalty against Gabriel Vilardi, and as the Predators tried to kill the penalty Vilardi drew another penalty, this one by Mikael Granlund. With Jonathan Quick still on his way to the bench for the extra attacker, rookie Arthur Kaliyev scored to put the Kings up 2-0.
This time, the Predators were able to kill off the penalty, and moments later the Kings got themselves into trouble by putting too many men on the ice. However, it did them no good, as with ten seconds left in the power play, the Kings capitalized on an OZ turnover and some wobbly coverage on the backcheck, and Trevor Moore scored to give the Kings a three-goal lead, barely ten minutes into the game.
The Kings trapped the tired Preds in their own zone and almost made it 4-0 less than three-quarters of the way through the period, but a lucky deflection took the puck out of play and spared the Preds for now. Newcomer Jeremy Lauzon took exception to the Kings’ approach to Rittich. but no penalties were called—probably for the best, at this rate.
On the final shift of the period, the Predators’ top line finally got some life into the team, but it was definitely too little too late for the first period.
Early in the second, Rasmus Kupari collided with Mark Borowieki at an unfortunate angle, sending Borowieki into the endboards. Borowieki’s head bounced off the plexiglas in a motion I could have done without seeing a slow-mo replay of, and even once he got back up he left the ice slowly and went down the tunnel. He did not return, and with Dante Fabbro already injured from last night’s game the Preds are getting stretched very thin on defense.
The injury seemed to invigorate the Preds, however belatedly, as Phil Tomasino finally got the puck past Quick on a follow-up chance to close the Kings’ lead to 3-1. The top line threatened again, but Quick stayed with them the whole way.
While the Preds got a lot of zone time as the period went on, they struggled to create many more dangerous chances. As the third period began, the Preds were able to get to the front of the net, but it didn’t do them any good, as Quinton Byfield counterattacked to give the Kings a 4-1 lead.
Yakov Trenin and Sean Durzi dropped the gloves and took a seat. While the Predators rallied a little more, they didn’t get much going. With seven minutes remaining in regulation, Hynes made the bold move of pulling Rittich for the extra attacker, but unfortunately Kempe almost immediately scored into the empty net.
Down by three goals already, the Preds would have needed that time, but this kind of thing just disincentivizes coaches from taking calculated risks. As I said, unfortunate.
Rittich tried to play the puck well outside the crease after returning to his net, and Byfield scored his second of the night before Rittich could get set up again, giving the Kings a 6-1 lead. With five minutes remaining in the game, Moore took a cross-checking penalty—at least he can’t score shorthanded from the penalty box—but the Preds were unable to convert.
Time finally ran out on a game that had started way too late on a weeknight to be this disappointing. While Tomasino’s goal was a good thing for him, and while Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg had good games, the experience as a whole was just not worth staying up for. The Preds were tired from the back-to-back and lost another defender to injury early, which didn’t help.