Predators-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 08, 2011
Pekka Rinne never had too many problems against the Los Angeles Kings until two poor outings last season. If he's in net Tuesday night, he'll try to help hand the Kings a sixth straight loss as the Nashville Predators begin a back-to-back set of games in Southern California. Rinne, who signed a seven-year, $49 million contract Thursday, was a Vezina Trophy finalist last season with a career-best 2.12 goals-against average. He went 4-1-0 with a 2.39 GAA and .907 save percentage in five starts against Los Angeles (6-5-3) before last season. In 2010-11, however, Rinne lost twice against the Kings and posted a 4.68 GAA and .821 save percentage - his worst marks against any Western Conference opponent. Backup Anders Lindback wasn't much better, recording a 4.29 GAA in two starts versus Los Angeles. Lindback could get a start on this trip, but Rinne has started each of Nashville's games this season, and he's 3-0-1 with a 1.96 GAA and two shutouts in his last four road contests. Los Angeles could be hard-pressed to beat him this time after Monday's 4-2 loss at San Jose. The Kings are averaging 2.14 goals for the league's third-worst mark, and they haven't scored more than two in any game during their losing streak. Their 0-3-2 slide started with the Oct. 29 return of star defenseman Drew Doughty. Los Angeles went 4-1-0 from Oct. 18-27 with Doughty out with an upper-body injury. "We're all confident here," goalie Jonathan Quick said. "We know we're not putting it to them the full 60 minutes, at least not through this little stretch. We're outplaying teams but we can't put them away. We have to dig down a little deeper and figure a way to get out of this." Doughty assisted on power-play goals Monday by Jack Johnson and Anze Kopitar for the Kings, who are trying to avoid losing six straight for the first time since an 0-8-0 stretch Dec. 12-26, 2007. Quick made 34 saves Monday, and could get Tuesday off. Quick did not face the Predators (7-4-2) last season, and he's 0-3-1 with a 3.24 GAA in four career starts against them. Backup Jonathan Bernier has lost both of his starts this season, but he started all four meetings with Nashville last season and went 3-1-0 with a 2.25 GAA. The Kings are finishing up their third set of games on back-to-back days, having lost the second one each of the first two times. The Predators, who visit Anaheim on Wednesday, are starting their second such set after sweeping a season-opening trip to Columbus and St. Louis. Nashville's surprising points leader is veteran David Legwand with 14. He's got six in a four-game run, and his second goal of Saturday's 4-3 win at San Jose came in overtime. The Predators trailed by two in the third period before rallying to improve to 2-0-1 on this five-game trip. "It was a big comeback," coach Barry Trotz said. "They put a lot of pucks on the net in the first period but we stayed resilient, and Leggy - deservedly so - gets the winner." Right wing Patric Hornqvist has six goals and one assist in his last five games after he failed to register a point in his first seven. Kopitar, meanwhile, is tied for the West lead with 18 points. He and Dustin Brown had a team-best six points apiece last season against Nashville. Predators left wing Sergei Kostitsyn missed his third game in four Saturday with a lower-body injury. He is day to day.
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