The Nashville Predators secured a workmanlike 2-1 victory over he Los Angeles Kings at the Bridgestone Arena to run their record to 37-19-7, good for 81 points.
The first period was a spirited affair between the two teams as each had some good scoring chances. Pekka Rinne got the start in net for the Predators, and he was called upon to make some good saves early in the contest to keep the Kings off the board. Jonathan Quick, the Kings netminder, did the same, thwarting some good scoring chances for the Predators.
The Predators would find the back of the net late in the first period on a goal by Roman Josi at 18:27. Josi took a wrist shot that hit the Kings Drew Doughty's stick and was re-directed between Quick's arm and his body. The puck trickled through and over the goal line to give the Predators a 1-0 lead.
Patric Hornqvist extended the lead to 2-0 at 3:52 of the second period. David Legwand fired a puck off the end board that caromed directly onto the tape of Hornqvist's stick. Hornqvist buried the shot past an out of position quick for his 18th goal of the season. It was good to see Hornqvist back in action and contributing after missing five games due to injury.
The Kings got on the board at 16:36 of the third period as Dustin Brown fired a shot toward the net with traffic in front. The puck pinballed off the skates of Ryan Suter and Mike Fisher and skittered past Rinne for the Kings only goal of the game.
Leading 2-1 with the clock winding down, the Predators held the Kings off the board and secured an important two points.
Pekka Rinne made 30 saves for the Predators, some of which were spectacular. For the game, the Kings out shot the Predators 31-28.
The Predators did a good job of forechecking the Kings and skated well with them all night. The Kings like to use their size to wear down their opponents, but the Predators generally did a good job of controlling the Kings cycle and forcing them to the outside. Unlike their previous game with the Sharks, the Predators stepped up their offensive pressure in the third period, especially late in the game, preventing Quick from getting off the ice for the extra attacker by forcing the puck deep and forcing the Kings to defend in their zone.
Kudos to Hal Gill for another strong game. Gill continues to block shots and his physical presence is dominant in front of the net. Gill is especially important to this team in taking pressure off of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter by chewing up minutes. Also, a special mention should go to Jack Hillen. Hillen was inserted into the lineup with Kevin Klein out of action, and he played a solid game. His best play came in blocking s hot that was targeted for the open net when Rinne was out of position.
This was a solid effort against a desperate team that really needed the points. The Predators continue to play a strong team game, and have four lines that can put the puck in the net. More importantly, the four lines that are on the ice are defensively responsible and contribute quality minutes in all situations.
This is a winning formula. Sometimes the wins are not things of beauty, but they are wins nevertheless.
And the Predators will take them.
My three stars:
1. Pekka Rinne
2. Patric Hornqvist
3. Roman Josi