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Preds dealt 4-1 loss by Kings

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

Dan Hamhuis
Photo by John Russell
Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis scored the lone goal for Nashville Saturday night.

The Los Angeles Kings scored twice in the first 1:03 of the second period and added two more goals before the Predators got their only tally of the game in a 4-1 Nashville loss Saturday night at the Gaylord Entertainment Center.

The loss drops Nashville to 38-16-3 on the season and 20-4-3 at home. The Predators will next face San Jose in a 7:00 p.m. CT home game Wednesday night.

Kings forward Anze Kopitar put Los Angeles up 1-0 when he converted a power-play goal :29 into the middle frame. Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun had made two sharp saves prior getting a piece of Kopitar's tally from the right side. Thirty-four seconds later, Brian Willsie chipped in a pinballing puck to make it 2-0.

Nashville defenseman Sheldon Brookbank gave his club some momentum midway through the period when he got the better of Tom Kostopoulos in a scrap, but it was short-lived as Kopitar lured Vokoun to left side before curling behind the net and putting the puck past scrambling defenders David Legwand and Marek Zidlicky from the right side.

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Early in the third, penalties to Scott Nichol and Steve Sullivan put Nashville down two men, and the Kings capitalized when Michael Cammalleri scored on a one-timer at 6:29. The Predators got one back less than four minutes later, when Dan Hamhuis scored the home team's lone goal of the night to make it a 4-1 final.

In the first period, Sullivan was at the heart of Nashville's best chances. The speedy winger was denied by Kings goaltender Sean Burke on a stuff attempt near the 4:00 mark, he set up teammate Martin Erat for a good shot from the slot during a delayed penalty situation at 10:30 and nearly connected on a bang-bang play on the ensuing power play seconds later.

Vokoun made his share of saves, including one on Cammalleri with L.A.'s best chance of the period. Though outshot 11-6 over the opening 20 minutes, Nashville displayed good defensive zone coverage and only gave up one or two quality scoring opportunities. That advantage tilted in Los Angeles' favor as the game progressed. Once the Kings had the lead they began clogging the neutral zone and making it tough for the Predators to generate anything offensively.

Highlights of Predators vs. Kings, Feb. 10, 2007 (:40)

The physical play picked up in the last few minutes of the opening stanza, when a series of big collisions sparked the players and the crowd. The first period ended with a dust-up in the Predators' zone at the buzzer, with Scottie Upshall and Nichol earning roughing calls along with Los Angeles' Jason Ward. That set up the power-play that resulted in the Kings' first goal. The second period also concluded with a fight between Vern Fiddler and L.A.'s Derek Armstrong.

BROOKBANK REASSIGNED: Defenseman Sheldon Brookbank, who played in his third NHL game Saturday night after being recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League earlier in the week, will be reassigned by the Predators to Milwaukee. An injury to blueliner Shea Weber (sore jaw) necessitated the recall of a defenseman, and Weber could be ready to rejoin the lineup on Wednesday when Nashville hosts the San Jose Sharks.

NOTES: The Predators did not score a first period goal for only the second time in the last 20 games... Nashville had outscored their opponents a combined 76-39 in the second period before being outscored 3-0 by Los Angeles on Saturday... The loss snapped the Predators' eight-game win streak and dropped the club's home record to 20-4-3... Nashville's penalty killers had killed 30 of 31 power plays against over the previous seven games before allowing two power-play goals against on Saturday... Defenseman Dan Hamhuis scored his fifth goal of the season and his third in the last 11 games... David Legwand posted an assist and is now one point from equaling his career high of 48 set in 2002-03. He currently has 19 goals and 28 assists for 47 points... Nashville is 38-16-3 for 79 points in the standings. The team was 33-16-6 with 72 points at this time last season... The Predators skated in front of a full house of 17,113 at the GEC. It was the fifth sellout of the season... Shea Weber and Jerred Smithson were scratched from the Nashville lineup.

Post-Game Comments

NASHVILLE HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ
On the topic of the overall game...
"Well I think it is tough, especially when they got those 2 quick goals in the 2nd period.  It makes life a little bit tougher but I'm not going to take anything away from LA, they played really well.  You know it's no secret they've been playing well, they're 2-0-3 in their last 5. I really knew they were playing well coming in, I thought they did a really good job through the neutral zone, they just played a real simple low game. When they got up the 2 quick goals there, that was very hard for us to come back.  We just didn't win enough battles and create enough momentum. 

You know we had a couple of defining moments.  Obviously they scored coming out of the second period and before you know you go into the dressing room its 0-0 and then 1:03 later into the second period, you're down 2 goals, so good momentum for them. We had a 4-minute power play and didn't really get back into that.  So good job by them (LA) not allowing us to get back into the game."

On the two quick scores
"Concerns obviously two of the goals were coverages where we had guys (from LA) and just let them go...that was probably most disturbing to me that those areas that we can take away, we didn't. You know some nights we do a good job of that and other nights like tonight we didn't do as good of a job as we need to."

On the topic of LA playing well
"LA you know this year, Sean Burke is playing really strong for them lately since they've got him.  They have a real solid defense that has been a staple all year, but they just hadn't been in sync but lately they've been in sync and playing pretty good hockey.  You know they came in here and took 2 points and they deserved it."

Post-Game Interviews:

Dan Hamhuis  (2:04)

Tomas Vokoun  (4:35)

Head Coach Barry Trotz  (10:06)

PREDATORS FORWARD STEVE SULLIVAN
On if teams like L.A. are tougher to play against
Shouldn't be. It should be a night where we bring our best game. It doesn't matter who's in the other dressing room, we have to be prepared every single night. Games like this make it tougher for us coming down the stretch, coming down to those last 10 or 12 games, when were losing games like this. We have to win more games, against San Jose, Detroit, Anaheim, not saying we can't do it, we're just putting ourselves in a tough position.

On the game getting physical
We're a skilled hockey team. We're big boys, we can take it. If teams want to play that way, we have no problem with that. We need to rebound, come back, and keep playing the same way; keep using our speed. That's our threat. When we're not skating, that's when teams seem to take liberties on us, because we're not getting to the areas quick enough.  We're not willing to work hard enough to get in and out of the areas, and that's when we're paying the price.

PREDATORS CENTER SCOTT NICHOL
On winning at home
We play 82 games a year.  Anytime you have 41 at home, you want to win your home games. We've done that so far this year. I think we've been really good at home. They came out today, battled hard, and got some timely goals. At the start of the second period to kind of put us right behind right off the bat, 1:13 in. We can't do that. That's really uncharacteristic of us. But we have another game Wednesday.

On having a break before the next game
Yeah, we get a day off tomorrow. You'll always be thinking of it. It's tough to have a day off when you come off a loss, but we've been going hard. We've been on the road a lot and home a little bit. It'll be nice to recharge your batteries, spend some time with your family, and get back to work on Monday.

On battling back
Well I think we have a real good habit of winning here. Those guys, they haven't won a lot this year. I really believe that when we were down 2-0 or 3-0 that if we came back and got a goal early, they would have really tightened up a little bit. They've struggled a lot this year and they have a lot of new guys. I think that if we got a few early ones, I think it would have been a different game. Give them credit, they stuck to their system. They had one forechecker and four guys back. It's pretty tough to score when they're all sitting back there.

PREDATORS GOALTENDER TOMAS VOKOUN
On the game
Not necessarily what they did, but what we didn't do, mattered tonight. We just didn't play with enough spark. They were a desperate team and they played a good hockey game. But, we just didn't seem to have enough motion. Both ends of the ice, we just weren't getting good penetration in front of their net and we didn't do a very good job defending, too. For whatever reason, it seems lately with teams we are playing on paper, shouldn't beat us, they do. We have to go back to our grind game; just playing our system better. We want to play and just pass the puck, play nice hockey, but when teams, this time a year, play desperate, it's tough. You have to chip and run, and go to the hard areas, grind in their zone, and for some reason, we just didn't do that tonight.

On the game
From the start of the game, I'm not so much worried about what the score what or is, but how we play. We can certainly play a lot better and with a lot more emotion. That's what's disappointing. Sometimes you're going to lose a game for whatever reason, bad bounces, whatever, but it wasn't a good effort and that's something we have to look at, more than just losing the game.

On playing better the next few games
We have to get back to our hockey and play harder. It's really simple. They just wanted to win more than we did tonight. They are certainly not a better team, but they just played better as a team tonight and they worked harder. That's why they won.

KINGS GOALTENDER SEAN BURKE
Good to get a win against the best team in the West?
"The last game we played these guys it wasn't very pleasant. So this was a great team effort.  We had a game plan and we executed it very well."

Special Teams?
"Discipline. We were hard on the puck but we were smart about it.  You don't see a guy like Paul Karyia very often take bad penalties.  That shows that we were playing a very strong game along the boards."

KINGS FORWARD ANZE KOPITAR
Getting a win against the Predators
"Last game here we got beat pretty bad.  We gotta come out strong, and we did.  We paid attention to details, we executed and that brought the success this game.

Special teams?
"Yeah we did a really good job on the penalty kill.  We got a couple of power goals too -  that's really important. When the special teams are going really good that gives us some momentum 5-on-5 too and we used it a lot today."

KINGS HEAD COACH MARC CRAWFORD
Game plan?
"We knew the Predators have been taking a lot of penalties lately and we knew we had to keep our composure and that's always the way you gotta play against teams that have has as much talent as they have."

Team effort?
"It was a classic total team effort for us.  Whether it was Weaver and Sopel on defense or Rob Blake they all played extremely well tonight and Sean Burke was there when we needed him to be. Made a couple of very big saves in the 2nd period when they got a few of their chances.  Up front I thought our centers were extremely good tonight.  Kopitar with his 2 goals. I thought Armstrong controlled the puck as well as anybody down deep in the zone. Lundmark has been extremely good for us. Its nice to have a guy that can skate cause in a game against the Predators you need to be able to skate."

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