Nashville Predators 5, Los Angeles Kings 3: Early Lead & Goaltending Put the Preds on Top
Juuse Saros kept the Predators in the game, providing a path to victory on a late 3rd period surge.
The Nashville Predators have had a busy up and down week and were coming off an ugly 5-2 road loss to the St. Louis Blues. But tonight they hoped to bounce back at home against the Los Angeles Kings, who were trying to have their own bounce-back game after being shut out by the Dallas Stars on Thursday.
The First Period
The Preds put the pressure on early, with Mikael Granlund tipping in a shot by Alexandre Carrier only 19 seconds into the game. Mere seconds later, Matt Duchene made it 2-0 as he took a pass from Cody Glass in the slot and with a spinning backhand put the puck through the 5-hole of Pheonix Copley. With two goals allowed, the Kings decided to pull Copley only 39 seconds into the game.
Shockingly, this seems to only tie the 10th quickest goalie exit from a game. However, none of the goalies who exited sooner had allowed a goal. So, perhaps, this was the fastest goalie pull in NHL history.
Jonathan Quick managed to make his first save of the game before Tanner Jeannot dropped the gloves with Brendan Lemieux at the 3-minute mark, getting the crowd even further into the game, if that were possible. However, the interlude seemed to settle the two teams a bit, with the game shifting more to a normal back and forth pace.
After scoring on the first two shots of the game, the Predators allowed the Kings to go on a 7-2 run of shots on goal. During that run, the Kings got one back when Ryan Johansen’s stick broke as he was trying to pass the puck out of the zone allowing the Kings a 2-on-0 in front of Saros. 2-1.
But it was Saros’ skill, including an absolute robbery of a save on a dynamic Kevin Fiala, that kept the Predators up by one.
Tanner Jeannot took a penalty with only remaining in the first. On the ensuing power play, the Kings bombarded the Predators and it was once again the grace of Juuse Saros and several amazing saves that kept the Predators up 2-1 going into the locker room.
The Second Period
Kevin Fiala continued his dynamic play from the first period forcing Saros to continue his excellence to keep the Predators in the lead through the early part of the period.
The Preds momentum had fallen off hard and they seemed to be counting on Saros to maintain their lead. Unfortunately for them, an unlucky bounce 6:44 into the period put the puck by Saros and tied the game. 2-2.
This seemed to light a bit of a fire under the Preds, who had a couple of good chances on Quick before a holding penalty by Roman Josi put the Predators on the penalty kill, again.
The Kings took their first lead of the game with 2:56 remaining on the period. The Kings were once again on the power play, this time after Dante Fabbro went to the box for tripping Viktor Arvidsson. Saros made several dazzling saves, but was unable to keep the puck out of the net with the continuous bombardment by the Kings and the defense collapsing in front of him. 2-3.
The Third Period
The Preds needed to gain some momentum and turn things around at the start of the 3rd. However, when Niederreiter took a puck to his face less than 30 seconds into the period, going quickly to the locker room, it seemed they might lose their momentum once again.
Juuso Parssinen got a good opportunity 7 minutes into the period, but could not elevate the puck enough to get it by Quick.
Parssinen helped out his team again 44 seconds later getting them their first power play of the game, when he drew a holding the stick penalty.
Just before the power play expired, Ryan Johansen got a good tip in the slot off a shot by Mikael Granlund to get the first puck of the game past Jonathan Quick and tying up the game. 3-3.
The power play goal seemed to open the floodgates. Cody Glass nearly took back the lead about a minute later, ringing one hard off the post.
With 6:33 remaining, Mattias Ekholm stood Blake Lizotte up at the blue line leading to a Predators rush the other way. On the rush with Cody Glass, Matt Duchene had finishing power, scoring his second goal of the night and putting the Predators in the lead again. 4-3.
With 4:10 left in the game, Forsberg found himself all alone in the slot with the puck, but was unable to get the puck past Quick. But moments later, Cole Smith playing net front got a tip off a Roman Josi shot for his first goal of his NHL career. 5-3.
The Preds had several close calls on the empty net, but failed to ice the game. A scramble in front of the Preds net with less than two minutes left led to a controversial delay of game call on Granlund, allowing the Kings to finish the game with a 6 on 4. Despite this, Saros again shut the door, ensuring the Predators victory.