KINGS (17-11-1) at PREDATORS (17-8-6)
Los Angeles 4-5-1; Nashville 8-0-2
Second of four meetings this season. Ryan Smyth scored a goal in his 1,000th NHL game as the Kings beat the Predators 4-1 in Los Angeles on Nov. 6. They also received goals from Anze Kopitar
, Dustin Brown
and Jarret Stoll
. Nashville's only score came courtesy of Shane O'Brien.
The Predators will be shooting for a franchise record as they try to make it 11 straight games with at least a point. A win over the Devils coupled with a Red Wings' loss to the Blackhawks on Friday has Nashville just three points behind Detroit for first place not only in the Central Division but the entire Western Conference.
He turned in a brilliant 51-save shutout performance over Detroit on Monday, but goalie Jonathan Quick
looked human Thursday as Los Angeles fell 6-4 in St. Louis. It was a score-fest, as Smyth and Kopitar scored power-play goals, each giving the Kings a one-goal lead before the Blues erupted for three straight and a 4-2 lead. But Wayne Simmonds and Brown tallied late in the second to send the game into the final 20 minutes all tied up. Alexander Steen netted the go-ahead goal with 2:53 remaining.
"It's definitely a lost opportunity," Kopitar said. "We had the better team, but if you don't play like it, it's not going to cut it in this League. Maybe on paper we had a better team tonight, but we definitely didn't show that on the ice."
Putting together a double-digit points streak is difficult enough, but losing your starting goaltender early in the run seems like it would only make things tougher. Not in Nashville, where rookie Anders Lindback
has been nearly flawless filling in for Pekka Rinne
. With a 15-save effort in New Jersey on Friday -- a pair of Martin Erat
power-play goals provided the offensive support in a 3-1 win -- Lindback improved to 6-0-1 since Rinne went down and 9-1-2 for the season.
"He's solid at everything, so there isn't that glaring a weakness that, once found, can be exploited," goalie coach Mitch Korn told NHL.com. "He's pretty solid from the top to the bottom of his game."
Kopitar has 6 goals and 4 assists during a six-game points streak for the Kings. Brown has 2 goals and 7 assists during a six-game points streak. Simmonds has goals in back-to-back games. … Lindback has allowed just 10 goals and has a .949 save percentage during his seven-game run for the Predators. Erat has 3 goals and 7 assists in his last eight games.
Los Angeles has yet to activate new acquisition Marco Sturm (knee) off injured reserve. Forwards Brad Richardson
(upper body) and Scott Parse
(hip) join him there. Defenseman Matt Greene
missed the St. Louis game with an upper-body injury while fellow blueliner Willie Mitchell
left it with a lower-body injury.
Rinne is on injured reserve for Nashville recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. Forward Matthew Lombardi (concussion) is also on injured reserve. Forwards David Legwand
(lower body) and Patric Hornqvist
(upper body) are day-to-day.
Kopitar has found his way onto the score sheet in seven of the Kings' last eight games with the Predators. … Nashville put together a 9-0-1 run from Oct. 14-Nov. 4, 2006 and a 7-0-3 streak from Feb. 19-March 10, 2007.
Barry Trotz made it clear Friday that Rinne is still the No. 1 goalie when he returns, but lauded the job Lindback has done in his absence.
"The good thing is, as the season goes on here, there aren't too many teams who can go to their backup goalie and have the confidence that he can steal you a game," the Nashville coach said. "Not many teams can do that and that's going to be really important for us. If Anders couldn't play the way he is right now, I'm sure that we wouldn't be where we are. That will serve us well as we move forward."