PREDATORS (5-3-3) at KINGS (9-3-0)
TV -- KCOP-13
Last 10 --
Nashville 4-3-3; Los Angeles 8-2-0
Season series --
This is the first of four meetings between the teams this season. Los Angeles scored a 2-0 victory in the final game between the clubs last season to snap Nashville's seven-game winning streak against them. However, the Predators won both games in Los Angeles last season, and have won 13 of 16 meetings dating back to the 2006-07 season.
Big story --
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty
returned to the lineup Thursday after missing six games with concussion-like symptoms. The 2010 Norris Trophy finalist, who is in his third NHL season, was reunited with Willie Mitchell
along the blue line. He played a game-high 24:44 and blocked three shots.
After starting the season with points in each of their first eight games, the Predators lost their third game in a row in regulation Wednesday, 4-3 to the Coyotes. The Preds were 3-1-0 on the road heading into the Phoenix game, but now have lost back-to-back games away from home. That doesn't bode well heading into Staples Center on Saturday, where the Western Conference-leading Kings are unbeaten in five games (5-0-0) this season.
There's something about the Eastern Conference that always seems to bring out the best in the Kings. Whatever the reason, the club is grateful to be playing six of 12 games against Eastern foes this month. Los Angeles, 4-0-0 against the East this season, scored a 1-0 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday behind the first shutout of the season for Jonathan Quick
(24 saves). The Kings actually went 14-4-0 against the East in 2009-10.
Who's hot --
Kings second-line right wing Justin Williams
scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory against the Lightning on Thursday and now has goals in four consecutive games.
Injury report --
Nashville forwards Martin Erat
(back) and Matthew Lombardi (concussion) are day-to-day. Defenseman Ryan Suter
(lower body) is on injured reserve. … There are no significant injuries to report for Los Angeles.
Stat pack --
Kings veteran left wing Ryan Smyth is scheduled to play his 1,000th NHL game Saturday. Smyth, who has 3 goals and 8 points in 12 games this season, would be the 255th player in League history to play in 1,000 games, and the third this season (Buffalo's Mike Grier, Ottawa's Sergei Gonchar, Calgary's Craig Conroy).
Puck drop --
"The road is usually not that much of a problem for us, but we have to find a way to start winning some games," said Predators coach Barry Trotz, whose team is 3-2-0 on the road this season.
The road doesn't get any easier for Nashville either, as beginning Sunday in Anaheim, the Predators play seven of their next nine games away from Bridgestone Arena.