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Predators continue trip in L.A.

by John Kreiser
PREDATORS (41-218) at KINGS (34-25-12)

TV: FS-Tennessee; FS-West (HD)

Last 10:
Nashville 6-2-2; Los Angeles 7-3-0

Season Series:
It's the finale of the four-game season series. The Kings have won two of the first three, all of which have been decided by one goal. L.A. won 5-4 in Nashville 11 days ago after the teams split the first two games.

Big Story:
The Predators are basically playing for playoff position -- it would be a shock if they missed the top eight in the West. The Kings are battling for their playoff lives; L.A. is one of three teams tied with 80 points, one behind seventh-place Phoenix and eighth-place Colorado.

Team Scope:

Nashville is 1-0-1 on its four-game trip after earning a point in a 2-1 shootout loss at San Jose on Thursday. The Preds had to settle for a single point despite leading 1-0 after two periods -- Joe Thornton tied the game with a power-play goal early in the third period before Ryane Clowe scored the only goal in the shootout.

Goaltender Pekka Rinne was the biggest reason the Predators didn't go home empty-handed.

"He played so well, you want to get the extra point," coach Barry Trotz said of his All-Star goaltender. "We'll take a point on the road and go from there."

Kings: After struggling all season to put the puck in the net, the Kings' offense has come alive in the last couple of weeks. L.A. fired home three first-period goals Friday night in Anaheim and outshot the Ducks 43-20 on the way to a 4-2 win.

"(This is ) probably the most consistent in terms of getting offense every night and getting good goaltending," said defenseman Matt Greene, who had two assists. "Everything has kind of come together lately, but it's still a long way to go. It's hasn't been too long. It's been a few games."

Who's Hot:
Nashville's Martin Erat has 11 points in his last 11 games and has been a point-a-game player in the Predators' 30 games since Jan. 7. … L.A.'s Anze Kopitar has goals in back-to-back games and has five points in his last five games. Justin Williams has had a goal and an assist in each of the Kings' last two games.

Injury Report: Nashville center Paul Gaustad left Thursday's game with a wrist injury and isn't expected to play. Defenseman Kevin Klein (upper body) sat out his eighth straight game on Thursday but says he's ready to return. … The Kings are still without forwards Simon Gagne (concussion) and Kevin Westgarth (hand); Scott Parse (hip) is out for the season.

Stat Pack: Both Kostitsyn brothers have done well against the Kings. Sergei has two goals and eight points in eight career games against the Kings, while Andrei has four goals and eight points in seven games -- including multiple-point games in two games played this season - one with Nashville and one with Montreal. … Erat has reached 50 points for the fifth time in six seasons; no other player in Nashville history has more than three 50-point seasons. … Nashville is 4-2-0 all-time on St. Patrick's Day.

Puck Drop:
The Kings are finally showing the kind of desperation they've been looking for during much of the season. Of course, scoring a few more goals doesn't hurt.

"Right now, it's desperation time for us, obviously," Kopitar said. "I thought tonight we came out really strong. The first period we had was a good booster for us. When you do get a couple goals ahead, it's maybe a little easier to play the rest of the game. It's definitely easier than chasing from behind."

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