Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kings Get Past Predators 4-2 In Crucial Western Conference Contest

The Los Angeles Kings were held to 18 shots against the Nashville Predators but made the most of their chances as they scored four times and captured a crucial 4-2 road win at the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday night..

The Predators had scoring chances all evening but never got the favorable bounces as they were stymied by Jonathan Bernier who improved his career record against the Preds by stopping 30 of 32 shots. Pekka Rinne was the hard luck loser allowing three goals on 17 shots.

The Kings got goals from Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez, Wayne Simmonds, and an empty netter from Dustin Brown. The Predators' goals were from Jon Blum and J. P. Dumont.

The first period started with the Preds dominating play, out-shooting the Kings 9-1 in the first 6:30 of play. On the Kings' third shot of the game at 11:31, Kopitar came from the side of the Preds net and jammed a puck past Rinne near the post to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

The Predators matched the goal at 17:29 on an unassisted goal by Blum from the high slot. Blum grew up following the home-town Kings so it was special for him to get a goal in his first game against them.

In the second period the Kings scored two unanswered goals. At 2:16, on a rush, Blum forced Brown to give up a pass to Martinez who had shaken Kevin Klein and Mike Fisher and he put the puck into the net from Rinne's right side. At 12:03 Simmonds went to his knee on a slap shot from the left face off circle to put it past Rinne and make it 3-1 Kings at the end of the second period.

The Predators came out hard in the third period and seemed to be getting plenty of scoring chances but none found the net until surprise starter, J.P. Dumont scored at 12:43 to pull withing a goal at 3-2.

The Preds continued to press to no avail and the Kings put the game out of reach with 1:02 left when Brown nailed the empty netter.

In spite of the loss, Barry Trotz was positive about the team's play, "We actually managed the game extremely well. I thought it was one of our better games in quite sometime."

Jon Blum was pleased that he was able to score in his first game against the team he grew up following in Southern California. "It was nice to score against those guys but the two points were what we really wanted. We pushed hard late in the third period but with the empty net goal there wasn't much we could do about it. We had plenty of quality shots and didn't give up much but they capitalized on our mistakes."

Joel Ward was unable to play and it provided a surprise start for Dumont. Trotz was not specific about Wards injury other than to say he had a "few bumps and bruises" and that he would be "day to day."

He further said that "This morning he was checked out by the doctors who said he would be ready to go. He went for warm-ups and felt that he couldn't go so we put in a call for J. P. who was just around the corner."

Dumont was surprised that he got to play after being a healthy scratch six of the last seven games. "I got a phone call. I was almost at the rink so I was kind of surprised. It's one of those things where you get caught by surprise and your heartbeat goes up. I always try to keep myself ready for a situation like that."

With a win, the Predators could have moved into eighth place since Calgary fell to Phoenix 4-3. Seventh place Dallas, who has 82 points also lost to San Jose 6-3 to remain a point ahead of the Flames and two ahead of the Preds.

The Predators return to action Thursday night against Boston in a Vezina Trophy showdown between Pekka Rinne and Tim Thomas.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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