(Photo by: Harry How/Getty Images)
Jeff Carter takes advantage of the Nashville Predators once more by scoring his second hat-trick against the Music City club. Carter’s three goals led the Los Angeles Kings to a dominant 5-1 victory thanks to a dominant four goal third period.
Nashville’s inability to convert on chances earlier in the game came back to bite them in their rear end. Luckily, the Predators were able to get at least one goal Monday night to save themselves of the embarrassment of not scoring a goal thanks to Gabriel Bourque.
Hard to blame Pekka Rinne for this loss, but he was off of his game. At least two of the Kings’ goals he would have usually stopped, but that wasn’t the case.
Credit to where credit is due though. The reigning Stanley Cup champs capitalize on almost every scoring chance they had. They had a total of only sixteen shots on net, giving themselves an excellent shot to goals ratio.
Nashville entered the game with a purpose early on in the first period. The Predators were creating several chances to score, but were unable to capitalize on them, which would come to bite them later on in the game. The defensive play was solid as they limited the Kings’ shots to three in the first period.
It wasn’t until 15:26 into the game that Los Angeles recorded their first shot on net. The Kings’ faithful at Staples Center rewarded—or scolded—them with the “Bronx cheers”. Afterwards, the Kings started to get back to their usually game.
“The first 15 minutes, we were real solid in a lot of areas in our game,” said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz. “We didn’t win that much, but we didn’t lose that much.”
The intensity of the first carried over into the early minutes of the second with Mike Richards spearing Patric Hornqvist after the whistle at center ice. Hornqvist appeared to be frustrated with the lack of no call and waved his stick towards the Kings’ bench.
On the penalty kill around four minutes in, the Predators were able to go on a three on one rush into their offensive zone. Sergei Kostitsyn led the rush and, instead of shooting, decided to pass over a sliding Kings’ defender to a teammate crashing backdoor. The pass was disrupted and the puck went back down the ice for the LA attack on the power play.
Following the bad decision by Kostitsyn, Jeff Carter was able to take a 1-0 lead 5:28 in the second period because of a fortunate bounce past Rinne. Carter attempted to pass to Richards across the top of the crease, but ended up putting the puck on net and going past Rinne’s five-hole giving Carter his first goal of the night.
LA gained energy after the soft goal and turned their game around for a little while until the last few minutes in the second where the Predators started to get their mojo back.
Another soft goal almost got by Rinne, however this one wouldn’t have been his fault. A dump in by Dustin Brown takes a weird bounce off the glass and goes towards the Nashville net while Rinne leaves to play the puck. Luckily the Preds’ goaltender was able to get his stick in the way of the puck in time before another odd goal was scored on him. (See Game 6 of the 2010 Playoffs vs. Chicago).
The third period was dominated by the Kings and really forced the Predators to leave Staples Center with their tales between their legs. LA topped off their 1-0 lead with four goals to insure their victory over Nashville.
4:39 in, Carter scored his second goal of the game alone in the slot by dipping the puck around Rinne. Just nineteen seconds later, Carter stole the puck from Roman Josi in the neutral zone and went on a breakaway, which he would capitalize on to earn himself another hat trick against the Predators.
Richards scored on the power play minutes later to give his team a 4-0 lead. Dustin Penner entered the offensive zone and passed to an open Richards, who one-timed the pass past Rinne from the left circle to Rinne.
LA wasn’t done yet and showed no mercy with Dwight King giving his team a 5-0 lead halfway through the third period. Stoll’s pass from the corner was redirected by King in the slot past Rinne, who faced his last shot of the night.
Chris Mason came in relief to finish out the rest of the night.
Pesky Gabriel Bourque didn’t want to leave Hollywood without goal for his team. After plenty of chances earlier in the period, Bourque was finally able to put one past Jonathan Bernier. Bourque used his shooting abilities to go top-shelf, blocker side on the LA goaltender.
The game chilled out a bit following the Bourque goal as the Kings went into a “safe mode”. LA won the game 5-1 on only sixteen shots.
Line Up Report
#35 Pekka Rinne*
#30 Chris Mason
#45 Jon Bernier
Predators Scratches: #9 W Bobby Butler and #18 W Brandon Yip (upper body)
Kings Scratches: #15 W Brad Richardson and #44 D Davis Drewiske
What happens next?: After an embarrassing loss like Monday night, it is hard to say what happens next for the Predators. Obviously, general manager David Poile will not be making any radical decisions like trading their core for a superstar or firing Barry Trotz, but something has to change fast.
Scoring has always been a problem for the Preds throughout their history, but they have always found a way to get around it. That is not the case right now as this is a severe, serious issue with this roster. Players who should be stepping up, aren’t, which can make the coaching staff’s lives a bit difficult.
What the fans can look for is a radical line adjustment where we see players paired up who have never been paired up before, a call up of a player from Milwaukee and see what newly-acquired forward Bobby Butler can bring to the table.
It will be interesting to see what all folds out this week in the Predators’ organization.
Goals and Assists
1-0 LA: PP Jeff Carter – Stoll and Voynov at 5:28 in the 2nd
2-0 LA: Jeff Carter (2) – Fraser and Voynov (2) at 4:39 in the 3rd
3-0 LA: Jeff Carter (3) – unassisted at 4:58 in the 3rd
4-0 LA: PP Mike Richards – Voynov (3) and Penner at 7:40 in the 3rd
5-0 LA: Dwight King – Stoll (2) and Scuderi at 10:54 in the 3rd
5-1 LA: Gabriel Bourque – Weber and Legwand at 13:05 in the 3rd
My Three Stars of the Game
1. Jeff Carter: Hat-trick
2. Slava Voynov: 3 Assists
3. Gabriel Bourque - Goal