NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Mar. 28) The longest road trip for the Kings this season ended with the team earning one point in the Western Conference standings in their 4-3 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators Saturday at a sold out Sommet Center in Music City.
Los Angeles finished their road trip with a record of 2-3-1.
"You go into every game with the intention to win," Kings coach Terry Murray said. Overall you want to see the work ethic, lay it out there and take it right down to the end like we did."
Jack Johnsons goal with just 1:04 remaining in the third period sent the game into overtime. Johnsons slap shot from the right point through traffic beat Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.
"I just buried my head and let it go," Johnson said. "We had guys going to the net, and I was just trying to give them a chance for a rebound and luckily it went in. Were not just going to quit because things dont look good for the playoffs."
Brian Boyle gave the Kings their first lead on their current road trip at the 7:00-minute mark of the opening period.
One day after being called up from Manchester of the American Hockey League, Boyle dispossessed Nashvilles All-Star defenseman Shea Weber behind the Nashville net. Boyle then squeezed the puck inside the near post of Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne. Boyles goal ended a stretch of 252 consecutive even strength minutes without scoring a goal.
"There was a little bit of nerves coming in, but it was a good way to help out,"Boyle said. "I tried to keep it simple and take it right to the net."
The 24-year-old Boyle has fond memories of Nashvilles Sommet Center, as it was the site of the 2003 Entry Draft where the Kings selected him with the 26th overall pick in the first round. The Kings were busy in the opening round of that draft, as captain Dustin Brown was taken with the 13th overall pick, and Jeff Tambellini was taken one spot after Boyle.
"Im from a pretty big family, Im one of 12 siblings, and I think just about all of them came," Boyle said of that day in 2003. "It was a pretty special day, and a pretty special draft, so I was fortunate to be picked up then. It is something I will never forget."
The Predators tied the game 1-1 at 14:24 of the first when Cal OReillys one-timer from the high slot beat Jonathan Quick low to the glove side.
Matt Greene gave the Kings a 2-1 lead at 8:56 of the second period. Anze Kopitar intercepted a J.P. Dumont pass and sent the puck to Greene on the blue line. Greene fired a slap shot from the right point through traffic beat Rinne low to the stick side. The goal was Greenes second of the season. His only previous tally this campaign came December 15th against San Jose.
The assist was the 200th point of Kopitars NHL career.
"I thought we created a lot more chances than we did before and we were able to cash in on them," Kopitar said. "We never quit until the last buzzer goes off."
Joel Ward and Shea Weber scored third-period goals to push Nashville ahead, 3-2, and they appeared to be headed for a regulation win before Johnsons tally sent the game into overtime.
Steve Sullivans power-play goal at 3:41 of overtime gave Nashville the win.
Los Angeles returns home for just one game Tuesday against Dallas before heading to Phoenix Thursday for the first game of a home-and-home series with the Coyotes. The road weary Kings will then head to Western Canada for three games before concluding the season April 11 at STAPLES Center against the Sharks.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick has started 26 of the Kings last 30 games. His record is 18-15-2The game with Nashville was the final game the Kings play against a Central Division opponent this season. They finished with a 7-11-2 against the divisionRookie defenseman Drew Doughty logged 25:33 of ice time in the game, the 70th time this season the blueliner has played in excess of 20 minutes in a gameBoyle led the team with five shots on goal in the gameKopitar and Michal Handzus each posted four points in four games against Nashville this season.
On not quitting on remaining games
Were not going to quit just because things dont look good for the playoffs. We try hard in every game and were not just going to throw in the towel. Theres seven games left and wed like to win all seven even if things arent looking great for us.
On his goal
Looking at the replay, I just buried my head and let it go. We had guys going to the net and I was just trying to give them a chance for a rebound and luckily it went in.
On playing comfortably with the lead
I think we played well for most of the game, it was just a couple mistakes we had and they took advantage with their good players on the power play. Theyre a good team as well and things didnt just work out for us.
On his goal
I think it deflected on the way in to go over his pads. I just tried to keep the tempo and just tried to use the passing lane and take it right to the net.
On it being tough to score on road tip
You just have to find a way. Ive watched them get a lot of chances and maybe a lucky break here and there. For whatever reason, the team is playing well and battling hard. Its the type of system you want to see and thats what they preach all year. Guys are doing it the right way for each other so the effort was always there.
On never quitting
I thought we were burying chances a lot more tonight than we did before. We cashed in on a couple of them. We never quit until the last buzzer goes off and thats how we scored with 1:05 left so that was good for us.
On picking up points on the road trip
Weve been playing pretty well on the road and we had the one road trip where we went 4-1. We are definitely pretty comfortable playing on the road.
Coach Terry Murray
On having trouble scoring goals
It was a good game and both teams played hard from the very beginning. I thought we came out with good energy and carried the first part of the game and got the first goal; they came back with a kind of effort we expected. Theyre a team that is on the bubble of making the playoffs and we knew there would be a lot of desperation on their part. I really like what weve been doing in the third period, battling and playing and finding ways to win games, finding ways to tie games up to get to an over time situation. Today was another example of it. Really great stuff.
On playoff type games
Youve got to keep going, these are playoff kind of games for us. Playing against a team like Nashville, theyre showing their best and you have to be able to handle the intensity and the work and the pace of the game. When you learn how to work that way on a consistent basis its going to help you as you get to grow and to become a team next year.