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Predators blow late three-goal lead, top Kings in OT

by Curtis Zupke /

LOS ANGELES -- Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi almost couldn't believe how much time and space he had after Filip Forsberg fed him the puck in the slot early in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday at Staples Center.

Josi beat Kings goalie Martin Jones with a wrist shot 18 seconds into the extra period for a 7-6 win, ending Los Angeles' bid to cap a late three-goal rally with an overtime victory.

"I gave it to Filip, and Filip made a real patient play," Josi said. "He made a great play to me in a lot of space and lots of time. Good thing it went in. I was a little surprised getting that much space in OT. I just walked down the slot and tried to pick a corner."

Los Angeles erased a 6-3 deficit on goals by Dwight King, Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter 1:27 apart in the final minutes of the third period. Carter sent the game into overtime when he one-timed Anze Kopitar's pass from the corner past Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne with 33.3 seconds left.

Nashville appeared on its way to a regulation win after Olli Jokinen scored to make it 6-3 at 8:38 of the third.

Rinne got his NHL-leading 25th win despite allowing six goals, the most he's surrendered since the Dallas Stars scored seven against him March 28.

"It was a good thing they didn't have that one shot [in overtime]," Rinne said. "I didn't have to make a save. I was [upset]. I was really disappointed. I couldn't believe what happened at the end there. … Roman took care of business individually. It was a good effort, really nice goal. Big win for us. Big two points. Crucial time against a big team."

Josi, Ryan Ellis and Colin Wilson led 16 Predators on the scoresheet with a goal and an assist each.

The Predators (25-9-3) moved past the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference with the win. They will visit the West-leading Anaheim Ducks (56 points) on Sunday.

Saturday was not the first time Nashville has surrendered a big lead this week. The Predators blew a 3-0 lead to Chicago on Monday before losing 5-4 in a shootout.

"It was definitely not the ending we planned," Josi said of the game Saturday. "If you're up 6-3, a couple of minutes to go, you want to win that game in regulation. Good job by our team staying with it. Still, we've got to do a better job at the end there."

Los Angeles (19-12-9) began a seven-game homestand by allowing the most goals at Staples Center since Feb. 3, 2014. The seven goals were the most allowed by the Kings since a 7-2 loss at the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the 2014 Western Conference First Round series.

"Anytime we are giving up seven goals, we are not playing the way we want to play," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We have to figure it out individually and collectively. It's pretty much the halfway point of the year. We've been saying we need to be more consistent, and we have to stop talking about being consistent and start being consistent."

Nashville's Mattias Ekholm and Mark Arcobello each had a goal in a 1:41 span in the second period to make it 5-1. Arcobello scored in his Predators debut on a wrist shot that beat Jones at 3:57.

A marquee goalie matchup between Rinne and Jonathan Quick ended when the Predators chased Quick from the net with three goals in 4:49 of the first period.

Mike Fisher whacked in a rebound at 4:54. Wilson's cross-ice pass to Fisher went in off Kings defenseman Matt Greene at 6:15. Ellis scored on a slap shot from the left point on the power play at 9:43 to make it 3-1 and force Kings coach Darryl Sutter to swap in Jones for Quick.

It was the first time Quick was removed from a game since the Kings' season-opening loss to the Sharks, a span of 31 starts. Quick is 2-7-2 in 11 career starts against the Predators.

Sutter was at his deadpan best regarding his decision to pull Quick.

"I thought if Jonathan only gave up three [goals] and [Jones] only gave up three, then we had to score seven," Sutter said.

Sutter gave credit to Nashville, which matched the Kings with 29 hits and blocked 15 shots.

"Both teams are good checking teams, but I think Nashville is a step ahead of us in all that," he said. "Not just tonight, but a step ahead of that because they all do it. Their defense is an elite defense."

Nashville scratched forward James Neal, its second-leading goal-scorer, because of a lower-body injury. Viktor Stalberg was recalled from the American Hockey League and got an assist on Wilson's goal.

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