Preview: Los Angeles at Nashville
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 20, 2016
Where: Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, Tennessee
After beginning their season-high seven-game road trip with a bang, the Los Angeles Kings are looking to avoid ending it with a whimper on Saturday as they visit the Nashville Predators. Los Angeles erupted for nine goals in the trip’s opener and added seven more in its next two contests before tallying just twice during its three-game losing skid (0-2-1).
Tyler Toffoli scored in the Kings’ 2-1 overtime loss to St. Louis on Thursday to push his season total to a career-high 24 goals – with two coming in a 4-3 OT victory over Nashville on Oct. 31. While the Kings reside atop the Pacific Division, the Predators are jockeying for one of the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference. Pekka Rinne turned aside all 29 shots he faced to present Nashville with its second shutout in three games in a 2-0 victory over Boston on Tuesday. “We’ve struggled at home a little bit, so that’s a big win. That’s the way we have to play down the stretch,” said the 33-year-old Rinne, who is 14-9-3 at Bridgestone Arena this season.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FSN West (Los Angeles), FSN Tennessee (Nashville)
ABOUT THE KINGS (33-20-4): To add injury to insult, leading scorer Anze Kopitar (lower body) left Thursday’s game in the first period and is considered day-to-day. “I mean, he’s our best player, so it’s a big loss for us. And saying that, it’s a big opportunity for other guys to elevate, and for other guys to step into the lineup and have an impact,” captain Dustin Brown told LAKingsInsider.com. “That’s the good thing about a team sport, you have other guys that you can rely on.”
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (27-21-10): Filip Forsberg scored and set up a goal on Thursday to extend his point total to nine (six goals, three assists) in his last six games. The 21-year-old Swede set up two goals in his last meeting with Los Angeles, but was limited to just one assist in his previous five encounters with the Kings. Mike Ribeiro has recorded his fair share of points versus Los Angeles (44 in 53 career meetings) and has eight assists in his last seven contests overall.
1. Nashville RW Craig Smith has scored two goals and set up another in the last two contests after mustering just one assist in the previous six.
2. Los Angeles has permitted six power-play goals in the last seven games.
3. The Predators are 10-for-10 on the penalty kill after yielding five power-play tallies in their previous four contests.
PREDICTION: Kings 2, Predators 1