Los Angeles Kings 2, Nashville Predators 1: Anze Kopitar Scores Winner In the Shootout

The Nashville Predators may be proving to be a pretty decent puck possession team after all, facing their stiffest test yet this season in the Los Angeles Kings and more than holding their own before taking the 2012 Stanley Cup champs to a shootout. The Kings' Anze Kopitar scored the only goal during circus time, however, lifting a backhand shot over Pekka Rinne's glove to let Los Angeles skate away with a 2-1 victory tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

Overall, however, it was a strong game by the Preds, perhaps their best team performance of the season. They out-shot the Kings 35-30, and the Fancy Stats looked even better, with the Predators dominating even-strength play. Neither side was able to capitalize on their power plays, however (four for L.A., three for Nashville).

The shootout loss pushes the Preds' record to 3-3-1, including a 3-1-1 record on home ice.

You'll have to forgive the typo, but my tweet before tonight's game almost proved eerily prescient:

A late 3rd period high-sticking call on Shea Weber (drawn by Dustin Brown) gave the Kings a few dangerous chances late, but Pekka Rinne was very strong in goal tonight, turning aside 29 of 30 L.A. shots. Matt Cullen scored his first goal as a Nashville Predator to give the Preds an early lead, but Slava Voynov tied it up later in the first period. That was all the scoring on the night, until we got to the shootout.

Next up, the Preds head out on the road for a Saturday night game at Montreal.

Random Observations

  • After a lousy opening shift, the Cullen line really clicked on the opening goal. Cullen's pass to Bourque was a nice piece of work, well-timed as Gabby cruised into the slot, and Smith did the yeoman's work to dig the loose puck out for his center to shoot it.
  • I'd like to see Forsberg get some time alongside Hornqvist, the kid knows how to get the puck to the net consistently, and nobody would be better suited to take advantage of that.
  • I really didn't like the Gaustad penalty late in the second, cross-checking a guy in front of the L.A. net. That's the very definition of an unnecessary foul that robs the team of an offensive chance.
  • The penalty kill may be rounding into shape, having successfully survived eight chances in a row over the last 3 games. In a tight game like tonight's, that kind of effort helped keep the Preds in it.
  • Nashville is continuing to do well on the faceoff dot, going 34-for-60 tonight.
  • Viktor Stalberg played just a hair over 10 minutes and didn't record a shot on goal. If he doesn't get it going soon, Trotz's Doghouse may welcome a new guest.

Boxscore - Game Summary - Event Summary - Fancy Stats

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Who is your Predator of the Game?

Matt Cullen18
Filip Forsberg9
Patric Hornqvist6
Pekka Rinne68