Cristobal Huet made 21 saves for his fourth career shutout as the Kings ended Nashville’s three-game winning streak with a 3-0 victory Monday night.
Michael Cammalleri also scored and Eric Belanger had two assists for the Kings, who jumped from ninth in the Western Conference standings into a sixth-place tie with Nashville. They are 11-1-2 in their last 14 games against the Predators.
“It was like a playoff game for them and for us, and we showed what kind of game we can play when we really need it and it means that much,” Laperriere said. “Everybody showed up right from the start and everybody was hitting.
“Every game means so much and every goal means so much. So if I can help the team by scoring goals, it’s great.”
After Wednesday’s game at Dallas, the Kings will play nine of their next 14 against teams behind them in the conference standings—including Anaheim, Edmonton and Phoenix twice each. But coach Andy Murray doesn’t see an easy opponent from now on.
“I couldn’t tell you where we are in the standings right now, I just know that we got two points tonight,” Murray said. “Every game the rest of the way is going to be like this, because even if you’re playing against teams that are eliminated, when guys are playing for their jobs, that’s a pretty desperate feeling, as well.
“Anaheim is playing better, Edmonton is playing better and Calgary is going to be battling.”
Laperriere, Belanger and Sean Avery put the clamps on the Predators’ top line of Scott Walker, David Legwand and Sullivan, who has five goals and five assists since being acquired from Chicago eight days ago.
“I don’t think I’m going to score every night. Tonight, I didn’t,” said Sullivan, who had three shots on net. “Some nights the puck is just not going to go in.”
Sullivan’s 10 points tied the NHL record for most points by a player in his first three games with a team. Wayne Gretzky also accomplished that feat with the Kings in October 1988.
“They had a job to play against probably the hottest line in the league. So what we wanted to do was make sure that we eliminated them from the hockey game,” Murray said. “Huet had to make three or four real good saves, and he really was able to see the puck through traffic.”
The Predators, who totaled 18 goals over their previous three games and set a club record with eight Saturday night against Phoenix, were blanked by the Kings for the third time this season—including a scoreless tie Jan. 13 at Nashville. Roman Cechmanek, on the injured list because of a groin injury, posted the other two shutouts.
“We have had a tough time with L.A.—one goal in four games. I don’t know why,” goaltender Tomas Vokoun said. “They just work hard. On paper, we should probably beat them. I’m glad we don’t have to play them again.”
Los Angeles opened the scoring in the first period following a turnover in the Nashville zone. Belanger skated toward the blue line and backhanded the puck to Laperriere, who stickhandled past Greg Johnson and Jason York before slipping the puck through Vokoun’s legs.
Cammalleri made it 2-0 early in the second period. He got the puck from Jozef Stumpel in the slot and fought off a check by All-Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen before beating Vokoun to the stick side with a 15-foot wrist shot.
This was Cammalleri’s second game since his recall on Friday from Manchester of the AHL. The second-year center scored eight goals in 11 games with the Kings after getting promoted from the minors on Nov. 17, then was sent back to Manchester on Jan. 3 following an 11-game goal drought.
Laperriere’s second goal of the night—and 200th career point—came during a four-minute power play. Scott Walker was sent off for roughing and got an additional two minutes for unsportmanlike conduct. Laperriere tipped in a longslap shot by Tomas Zizka for his sixth goal in eight games.
Ziggy Palffy was leading Los Angeles with 16 goals on Jan. 7, when a dislocated right shoulder ended his season. In the 22 games since, only one teammate has eclipsed Palffy’s total: Alexander Frolov with 19. … Nashville LW Scott Hartnell missed his second game because of a concussion and RW JordinTootoo sat out his third straight game with the flu.