It wasn't easy, but the Nashville Predators are two points richer.
Viktor Arvidsson scored the game winner in overtime, and the Preds posted their second victory in as many nights with 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. The result gives the Preds seven wins on the season, the latest two resulting in a sweep through Southern California.
"It feels great," Predators center Ryan Johansen said. "We have four points out of six, out of the California trip, on a back-to-back against a team that's been playing very well to start the season. All that matters in this moment is that we got two points."
Games like Saturday's contest are bound to happen over the course of an 82-game season, and good teams find a way to prevail. On the second half of a back-to-back situation, the Predators entered the third period with a 3-0 lead, only to see the Kings tie the game with three of their own to force overtime.
Then, with just 20 seconds remaining in the extra frame, it was Arvidsson who brought the boys off the bench.
"It was a nice pass by [Calle Jarnkrok] and I just skated into it and just tried to bury it," Arvidsson said of his goal. "It was nice."
After an early surge from the home team, Miikka Salomaki took an atmospheric, full-ice feed from Yannick Weber and beat goaltender Darcy Kuemper to give the Preds a 1-0 lead. A P.K. Subban shot found its way through traffic and made it 2-0 before the opening frame was out, and then Craig Smith tallied Nashville's third of the night in the second stanza.
Video: NSH@LAK: Smith snaps a shot off the post and in
Once Los Angeles tied it, goaltender Juuse Saros made a number of key stops down the stretch, just as he did in the first 40 minutes, to collect his first win on the campaign. In particular, the second goal for the Kings was one that can luckily be laughed about now.
Anticipating a dump in from the neutral zone, Saros vacated his net to play what he thought was going to be a puck coming behind his own net. Instead, Kings defenseman Christian Folin pulled up at center ice and fired it into a yawning cage.
"I've actually seen a couple guys scoring like that and I always thought that's not going to happen to me," Saros smiled. "I'll learn from that and move on."
"I thought he played really well," Nashville Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of Saros. "If you think about what he did, the first goal he had no chance, the second goal, it's a learning curve… and the last one was a one timer on the power play. Other than that, he made save after save… He made a save or two that allowed us the opportunity to fight for another point, so I thought he was really good."
Once the young netminder regained his composure, he was poised once more, and at the end of the night, Saros had made a career-high 36 saves.
"Good teams have to stay composed," Johansen said. "[The Kings are] a great team and we had our backs against the wall there for a little bit and Juuse made a couple of unbelievable saves. They were really testing us, and we were able to weather the storm a little bit. Then to find a way in overtime, we needed a big play and Arvi did that for us."
Video: NSH@LAK: Arvidsson scores OT winner on a breakaway
Facing both the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings, two of the perennial powers in the Western Conference is never an easy task. Doing so on back-to-back nights magnifies the challenge even further.
But behind balanced scoring and clutch goaltending, the Predators found a way to collect four points from the California foes in 48 hours, something easier said than done.
"It's never easy coming out here," Laviolette said. "It's always a little bit more difficult playing back to back. It's not an excuse, it's just what it is. The best games are when you're fresh, so I have to give our guys a lot of credit. Once it really came down to the chips being on the line, that's when we dug in the most and were able to get that last goal and get the extra point."
"We've played some good hockey on this trip," Johansen said. "There's always room for improvement and things we'll look at, but for the most part, we're going to be smiling tonight."
Video: Arvidsson scores the OT winner in Predators' 4-3 win
The Predators surrendered a three-goal lead in the third period and won for first time since Jan. 3, 2015, a 7-6 win, also in Los Angeles.
P.K. Subban's goal was the first of his three tallies this season that wasn't into an empty net. In addition, Craig Smith's marker was the first of his four not to be scored on the power play. Smith has three goals in his last fives games.
Anthony Bitetto, Pontus Aberg and Samuel Girard were healthy scratches for Nashville on Saturday night.
With the California portion of their excursion complete, Nashville will finish their four-game trip on Tuesday night in Columbus before returning home on Saturday, Nov. 11 to host the Pittsburgh Penguins.