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The Key Three: March 6

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 5-4 victory over the Nashville Predators...

The Kings scored five goals? On the road? Against Nashville? Against Pekka Rinne? Jonathan Quick struggled but got bailed out by the Kings’ offense? The Kings and Predators scored nine goals? It was, perhaps, the hardest-to-figure game of the season, and it started six-plus minutes into the game, when Justin Williams shot from below the blue line and Rinne did his best Lionel Messi impression as the puck slid across the line. Give credit to the Kings. On a night when they lost a lead three times, and their goalie wasn’t sharp, they kept coming. Quick, countless times, has kept the other 18 guys in the game. Last night, they returned the favor.


Nashville had scored a goal to tie the game 3-3, with just under six minutes remaining in the second period, and the Predators were charging. The fans gave the home team a prolonged, impressive standing ovation and, having clawed back from three separate deficits, the Predators had to feel good about their chances entering the third period. Maybe they felt too good. Within three minutes at the start of the third period, the Kings had two goals, and it was nothing fancy, just work. Matt Greene moved the puck nicely and scored on a slap shot, and then Trevor Lewis alertly went to the front of the net and showed a nice finishing touch on a rebound.

Pekka Rinne is a big goalie, and a good goalie. If the opposing team gives him space, and lets him see the puck, very rarely will it end up in the back of the net. That’s why, last week, even though the Kings played a solid all-around game in Nashville, they scored only one goal (and that was after two deflections in front of the net). This time, the Kings did a better job of making things a bit more difficult for Rinne. They shot from odd angles. They had defensemen pinching down. They got traffic in front of the net. Rinne is tough to beat, under any circumstances, and he allowed five goals in a game for only the fifth time this season.
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