For the second time in two weeks the Nashville Predators faced off against the Los Angeles Kings. And for the second time in two weeks the Kings came away with the victory, defeating the Predators this time 4-2 in Los Angeles.
The Predators, who continue to chase the struggling Detroit Red Wings and surging St. Louis Blues, failed on an opportunity to cut into the respective leads of those two teams over Nashville in the standings in a Saturday night St. Patrick's Day game.
Early on in the game it was clear that this game was going to be a physical and bruising game, a game that featured players flying into the boards and tempers occaisionally flaring (although nothing ever really got too far out of hand).
In the first period, the first and only goal scored came via, surprise surprise, the Kings. Anze Kopitar used Ryan Suter as a screen on Pekka Rinne on his shot that flew right by Rinne, as he never even saw it coming, which gave the Kings an early 1-0 lead at 7:53. The goal was number 23 on the year for Kopitar and Dustin Penner and Trevor Lewis were credited with the assits.
The Predators came out much more aggressively in the second period, managing four shots on goals within just the first four minutes, which included a great defensive play by Rob Scuderi who deflected a pass in a 2-1 opportunity for Mike Fisher and Andrei Kostitsyn.
Nashville was able to tie the game up with a second period goal by Martin Erat on the power play. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter combined to assist in getting the scored knotted up at 1-1 at the 13:43 mark.
Los Angeles had an early opportunity to retake the lead at 5:48 in the third period, when Justin Williams hit Anze Kopitar with a pass right in front of the net in a 2-1 play, but Kopitar had skated too far in front of the net and lost control. As he was getting the puck, he slid right into Pekka Rinne, negating the goal that came in the process.
The Kings, however, were far from finished with their close encounters with the Nashville net.
Dustin Penner regained the lead for the Kings at 8:04 when he scored his sixth goal of the season with assists from Trevor Lewis and Rob Scuderi. Los Angeles, 2-1.
This was the point in the game where things started to get away from the Predators a little bit.
At 13:02 Dwight King stretch the lead for the Kings to 3-1 with his fourth goal of the season, assisted by Jeff Carter. With a 3-1 lead, it seemed as though the Kings had essentially put the game on ice.
However, three minutes later is when that happened. The Kings managed a 4-1 lead over the Predators with Kyle Clifford's goal at 16:09 that was assisted by Jordan Nolan and Drew Doughty.
Give Nashville credit though, because they didn't give up. Mike Fisher knocked in a rebound late to make the score look a little bit better, 4-2, but there just wasn't enough time on the clock to get anything done.
Pekka Rinne had 23 saves on 27 attempts (.852%) and Jonathan Bernier had 19 saves on 21 attempts (.905%). Los Angeles fail on all three power play attemps in the game, while Nashville scored on one of three, while getting back-to-back power play opportunities in the second period on two cross-checking penalties, which were both called on Dustin Brown.
Nashville fell to the Kings 5-4 on March 6th. Los Angeles is just one point back of the Pacific Division lead, while the Predators remain 10 points behind St. Louis for first in the Central Division and two points behind Detroit for second.
Tomorrow night the Predators will be goings against the Ducks in Anaheim at 7 p.m. Central.