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Preds look for fourth straight at L.A.

by Brian Compton /
PREDATORS (20-13-6) at KINGS (22-16-1)

TV: Fox Sports-Tennessee; Fox Sports-West.

Last 10: Nashville 5-5-0; Los Angeles 5-5-0.

Season Series: This is the third of four meetings between the teams. Los Angeles won the first two matchups and outscored Nashville 10-2 along the way. The teams most recently met on Dec. 18, when the Kings coasted to a 6-1 victory at Bridgestone Arena.

Big Story: If the Predators -- winners of three in a row -- are going to get their revenge on the Kings, now is an optimum time. Los Angeles enters Thursday's action having lost four straight games, a skid that has it on the verge of falling out of a playoff spot.

"We play one or two periods very well, and we play one period not so great," Kings forward Brad Richardson said. "That's where we lose the game."

Team Scope:

Predators: Pekka Rinne wasn't about to allow his team to miss an opportunity to win a third straight game on Wednesday night. The Preds' goalie made 40 saves en route to a 4-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center.

Hornqvist and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, who weathered Anaheim's 41-24 shot advantage with several big saves by Rinne before scoring two empty-net goals in the final minute.

"We played really well defensively, which is great to see at the start of a road trip," Rinne said. "We know it's going to be a really tough road trip out here, but we stuck together defensively. They got a lot of shots, but we didn't give them so many good chances. We just have a strong defensive core. That's our backbone."

Kings: The skid reached for four games Monday night, when Los Angeles dropped a 4-3 decision to Chicago at the Staples Center. It was the third of an eight-game homestand for the Kings, who are in a virtual three-way tie for eighth place in the Western Conference with St. Louis and the Blackhawks. All four losses have come in regulation.

"The good teams just do it consistently every time, every shift," Kings coach Terry Murray said after Monday's loss. "You just play. It's like the pro playing against the 5-handicap golfer. He just has to play the game, because he knows, if you're a 5-handicapper, something is going to give, somewhere down the road. You're going to make that decision with the puck, you're going to make the bad pass, and there's going to maybe be that opportunity in the game.

"Some days, that 5-handicap golfer might win the game, but unfortunately I think we shot ourselves in the foot again here tonight, with the intensity and with the details with the puck."

Who's Hot: Patrick Hornqvist scored his 11th goal of the season Wednesday night. He has scored in three straight games. … Kings defenseman Jack Johnson has seven points in his last nine contests.

Injury Report:  Nashville is expected to be without Cal O'Reilly (leg), Steve Sullivan (lower body), Matt Lombardi (concussion) and Martin Erat (undisclosed). The Preds will also be without Jordin Tootoo, who voluntarily entered in-patient care as part of the Joint NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavior Health Program. … Kings winger Alexei Ponikarovsky is day-to-day with a lower-body injury, while Scott Parse (hip) is out. Defenseman Willie Mitchell is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stat Pack: Nashville is 8-for-38 on the power play in their last 12 games. … Kings center Michal Handzus scored a first-period goal, breaking a 19-game streak without a goal. Handzus had also gone four straight games without a point.

Puck Drop:  "We have to work on our game and get it to where it needs to be for the final half of the season to get into the playoffs and go deep. We have to figure that out." -- Kings center Jarret Stoll
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