Coming off their worst loss of the season, the Nashville Predators look to rebound Saturday when they host a Los Angeles Kings team they've recently played well against.
The Predators (23-9-3) had their five-game winning streak snapped with a 7-2 loss to Eastern Conference-leading Buffalo on Thursday. It was the most goals allowed by Nashville since a 7-6 shootout loss to Minnesota on Nov. 16.
"We weren't ready to play, and they showed us how to play hockey," Nashville captain Kimmo Timonen said of Thursday's loss.
The Predators, who lead the Central Division, outscored their opponents 16-6 during the win streak.
"We let them do whatever they wanted to do," said goalie Chris Mason, who was pulled Thursday after allowing five goals. "I'm not taking anything from them because they came to play tonight. We definitely weren't ready."
Mason, who started every game during the winning streak, could have a chance to get back on track Saturday. He's allowed one goal on 54 shots with a win and a tie in two career starts against Los Angeles (12-19-5).
Martin Erat scored short-handed Thursday for his seventh goal of the season and Jason Arnott added his eighth on the power play in the third period for Nashville's only goals.
Making matters worse, center Scott Nichol was given a game misconduct late in the game for punching Buffalo's Jaroslav Spacek in the jaw when he wasn't looking. Nichol, who leads the team with 61 penalty minutes, was also given an instigation penalty and was suspended nine games by the NHL on Friday.
"The punch by Mr. Nichol was deliberate, from behind, and it occurred after the referee's whistle had stopped play," said Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations.
Nashville has won three of the last four meetings against Los Angeles after going winless in seven straight games in the series. Nashville won 4-1 on Dec. 7 in this season's first matchup.
Four players scored goals in that game for the Predators, including leading goal-scorer Scott Hartnell, who has 13 but none in his last four games. Erat, who is second on the team with 24 assists, had three assists in the first meeting.
Paul Kariya, who leads Nashville with 34 points, has 28 goals and 32 assists in 52 games against Los Angeles.
The Kings will be trying to snap a three-game losing streak and had almost as tough a night as the Predators did Thursday in falling 5-2 to St. Louis.
Los Angeles was down 3-0, but scored the first two goals of the third period, including 19-year-old Anze Kopitar's 11th of the season. The Kings, though, gave up two more goals and have been outscored 14-8 during the skid. They are among the worst in the league with 126 goals allowed this season.
Kopitar has five goals and three assists in his last five games.
"I feel great. I feel confident and comfortable," Kopitar said. "My teammates and my coach have a lot of confidence in me."
Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles' leading scorer with 33 points, scored his team-high 17th goal in the last meeting against Nashville, but hasn't scored in six games since. He has three goals and two assists in his last three games against the Predators.