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Kings end drought vs. Predators with 2-0 win

by John Kreiser

Maybe all the Los Angeles Kings needed to end their slump was a change in goal.

Former first-round pick Jonathan Bernier, called up from Manchester of the AHL on Monday, made 34 saves Tuesday for his first NHL shutout to lead the Kings to a 2-0 victory over the Nashville Predators.

Bernier, the Kings' top pick in 2006, helped Los Angeles beat Nashville for the first time in eight games since Oct. 23, 2007.

"He had a big game here today," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "This (Bridgestone Arena) is a building that we haven't had any success in. You see his composure on that first power play that they had. He was under control, he absorbed some pucks. The season that he has played in the minors has really done good things for him. He's showing signs of becoming a real good goaltender at this level."

Murray also said Bernier will stay with the team at least through the trip back to Los Angeles. The Kings host Vancouver on Thursday night.

Scott Parse broke a scoreless tie at 7:50 of the third period, and Sean O'Donnell scored with 2:01 remaining in the game for the Kings, who had lost their last four games overall and have dropped to seventh in the West.

Bernier made eight saves in the first, 15 in the second, and 11 in the third. His best stop came early in the third period when he robbed Nashville defenseman Shea Weber with his glove on a wrister from the slot.

"The one of Weber in the third period, that's a world-class save," O'Donnell said. "That's a guy who is about as dangerous on the point as you want. He had the top corner, but [Bernier] made a great play. He's poised and confident back there."

Bernier was quick to credit his teammates for his big night.

"It's great," he said. "The guys were in good position so their guys had to go around them. It was a big two points for our team."

The Predators, who are fifth in the West but saw their lead over sixth-place Detroit shrink to just one point, have lost two of their last three, both losses coming in shutouts at home.

"This time of year, it's tough to score," coach Barry Trotz said. "The last seven games, it's been 0-0 or 1-1 for most of it and there's not much going on in terms of offense. There aren't many inches, so you have to grind it out."

The game was scoreless until Jeff Halpern controlled the puck behind the Nashville net, skated to the left side and found Parse skating unchecked through the slot and put a pass right on his stick. Parse's one-timer beat goaltender Pekka Rinne

"First [Brad] Richardson won the faceoff to start the play," Parse said. "Halpern got the puck behind the net, and I yelled as loud as I could for him. The middle was open, he found me, and I put it in."

It was Parse's third goal in two nights. He had his first career two-goal game in the Kings' 3-2 loss at Minnesota on Monday.

O'Donnell put the game away with a wrist shot from the left circle that caught the far corner just underneath the crossbar.

The Predators haven't scored in their last two home games, sandwiching shutout losses to Detroit and L.A. around an overtime win at Florida on Monday.

"I don't think our energy was where it needed to be tonight, mentally or physically," defenseman Dan Hamhuis said. "Mentally, we didn't have the urgency, especially at the start of the game. It has been a long month, and the schedule lightens up here in the next week to re-energize."

The game concluded Nashville's 17-game March schedule. The Predators ended the month with a record of 11-5-1. The 11 wins established a new franchise record.

Material from team media and wire services was used in this report

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