Originally written March 18, 2012 on Inside Smashville:
LOS ANGELES – Martin Erat registered four shots on goal Saturday night in Los Angeles, but the Nashville Predators were only able to put 21 shots on Jonathan Bernier in their 4-2 loss to the Kings. Bernier now has a 6-1-0 record against the Predators. “They play desperate, good hockey. They forecheck hard and they play tight defensively. It is really hard to play against them,” Erat said about the Kings. Nashville only had 5 shots in the first period and 7 shots in the final frame. With less than eight minutes to play in the third period, the Predators had still only registered one shot on goal in the period. Head Coach Barry Trotz said the Predators were not able to shoot the puck on net, even when the opportunity to do so was there. “They do a real good job holding the line. We could have had a few more shots. We had some good looks, but we kept putting it over into the glass all the time. We would put it wide, or over the net.” Los Angeles opened scoring at 7:53 into the first period when Anze Kopitar picked up his 23rd goal of the season. Nashville responded on the power play just under six minutes later at 13:43 of the opening frame. “It was on the power play,” Erat said describing his goal, adding, “Suter made a good play and Hornqvist skated in front of the net. I just put it low, blocker side.” While the second period remained scoreless, the Predators controlled much of the play, registering 9 shots on goal to Los Angeles’ 8 shots. “In the second period, we were taking over. We were a little sluggish out of the gates. I thought as the game went on we would be in good shape,” Trotz said. “But then they got the one play with the bounce off the glass, getting the second goal. When a team jumps ahead by a goal you have to stabilize, keep pushing forward to see if you can get it tied up.” It was Dustin Penner who gave the Kings the lead at 8:04 into the third period. Nashville was unable to get the equalizer. Dwight King and Kyle Clifford added goals for Los Angeles to make it a 4-1 game. Nashville’s Mike Fisher picked up his 22nd goal of the season with just 2:42 remaining in regulation, but it was too late for Nashville to get back into the game. Defenseman Kevin Klein returned to the lineup after missing eight games with an upper body injury. Klein said the Predators had a difficult time getting shots on goal because Los Angeles plays so well defensively. “They are one of the top teams in terms of goals against. I think they use the neutral zone very well. They have a lot of skill. You can’t give them those chances. They played really well in the third period, especially after we took over in the second period. One bounce and they just fed off that,” he said. The loss was the second in a row for Nashville. On Thursday night, the Predators lost in a shootout to the San Jose Sharks. On Saturday, the Sharks beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime by a 3-2 score. The Sharks and Kings are now tied for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings. Nashville returns to action on Sunday night when they visit the Honda Center to take on the Anaheim Ducks. Game time is 7 pm CT. Erat says the key to playing a better game on Sunday is simple. “We just have to get to sleep and have a better effort tomorrow.”  
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