The Nashville Predators have opened this four-game road trip with two shootouts, and can likely expect another close contest against their next opponent.
The Predators and Los Angeles Kings have played three one-goal games heading into their season series finale Saturday night.
Nashville (41-21-8) won a shootout Monday in Phoenix before falling in another one Thursday in San Jose. Coach Barry Trotz was not happy after his team took a 1-0 lead into the third period Thursday but conceded a tying power-play goal in a period in which it outshot the Sharks 10-4.
“We learned a little lesson there,” Trotz said. “When it goes to a shootout, anything can happen.”
The Predators trail Detroit by one point in the race for the No. 4 seed and home-ice advantage in the first round. They have lost two of three to the Kings (34-25-12) this season, including a thrilling 5-4 defeat the last time these teams met March 6 in Nashville.
While the Predators are seemingly secure for a playoff spot, the Kings are in a very different situation. Los Angeles has 80 points and is among five teams separated by one point for the last two spots in the crowded Western Conference standings while also trailing Pacific Division leader Dallas by three points.
The Kings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period Friday and held on for a 4-2 victory at Anaheim. Alec Martinez, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams all scored within 20 minutes and Mike Richards ended a 25-game goal drought with an empty-netter.
“Right now it’s desperation time for us, obviously,” Kopitar said. “I thought tonight we came out really strong. The first period we had was a good booster for us. When you do get a couple goals ahead, it’s maybe a little easier to play the rest of the game. It’s definitely easier than chasing from behind.”
Justin Williams and Drew Doughty each added two points for the second straight game. Williams has 11 points in his last nine.
The Kings have gotten eight points from defensemen during this win streak.
“Our defensemen are standing up, they’re getting more involved in the offense,” Williams told the Kings’ official website. “It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re Drew Doughty or Matt Greene, it doesn’t matter. If you get involved, you’re going to get opportunities, and they’ve been getting a lot of shots to the net.”
Jonathan Quick has started 16 of the Kings’ last 18 games. He has a 1.95 goals-against average during this win streak, although he’s 1-4-1 with a 3.17 GAA in six career starts against the Predators.
Quick earned his first win over Nashville in the meeting earlier this month while Pekka Rinne was pulled in that contest. Rinne is 5-4-0 with a 3.03 GAA in nine career starts against the Kings.
Nashville’s Andrei Kostitsyn has eight points in seven career games against the Kings, while brother Sergei has eight in eight. Sergei Kostitsyn had six points in four games before he was held without one Thursday.