The Predators, owners of the most points in the NHL, look to extend their franchise-best eight-game home winning streak when they continue their season series with the lowly Kings on Saturday.
Nashville (38-15-3) set a franchise mark for consecutive wins at home Thursday night, beating Toronto 4-2. The Predators have outscored opponents 32-14, including three shutouts, during the run and are 20-3-3 at home this season.
In Nashville’s last game against Los Angeles (18-30-9), the Predators had three players score two goals in a game for the first time in franchise history as they won 7-0 at home on Dec. 23.
During the home winning streak, Nashville’s opponents have converted on just 8.3 percent (3-for-36) of their power-play opportunities. The Predators stopped the Maple Leafs during eight short-handed chances and scored two power-play goals Thursday.
“Our goal is score one power-play goal a game and try to be the difference,” Nashville forward Steve Sullivan said. “We want the penalty kill to shut the other team down as we try to win the special teams wars.”
Sullivan scored a power-play goal and assisted on another for Nashville, which also got goals from Legwand, Dumont and Vernon Fiddler. Sullivan has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in his last 12 games overall, and one goal and five assists in his last four contests against the Kings.
The Predators, in their eighth season, seem primed to make their first serious run at a Stanley Cup. They play six of their next seven at home.
“It’s nice not to be the underdog anymore, but the favorite,” said forward Scott Hartnell, a 2000 draft pick with 427 career games with Nashville. “We’re relishing that.”
Los Angeles, meanwhile, is last in the Western Conference with 45 points but has earned a point in a season-best four straight games (1-0-3).
Anze Kopitar, Alexander Frolov and Lubomir Visnovsky scored for the Kings in a 4-3 overtime loss at Washington on Thursday night. Kopitar, a rookie, leads Los Angeles with 34 assists and is tied for third with 14 goals.
Michael Cammalleri, who missed Tuesday’s shootout loss at Tampa Bay with a muscle strain, had two assists against the Capitals to give him a career-high 31 this season. He also has recorded at least one point in a career-high seven straight games, registering four goals and seven assists over that span.
Kings goaltender Mathieu Garon has allowed eight goals in his last two games.
“In Mathieu’s case, I’m sure he’ll get better as he gets more comfortable in the net,” Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford said.
Garon has faced the Predators twice in his career, going 1-1-0 with a 2.01 goals-against average.
Nashville beat Los Angeles 4-1 on Dec. 7 in the teams’ other matchup this season, giving it four wins in the last five meetings in the series.
The Predators could have a new face in the lineup Saturday after acquiring center Eric Belanger from Carolina on Friday in exchange for center Josef Vasicek, who had only 13 points in 38 games and was having trouble working his way onto the ice.
Belanger, who has 20 points in 56 games this season, spent his first five seasons with Los Angeles and had career highs in goals (17), assists (20) and points (37) for the Kings in 2005-06.