Photo by Noah Graham/Getty
Paul Kariya celebrates his second goal of the game with teammates as Kings goaltender Sean Burke collects himself.
The Nashville Predators scored four unanswered goals in a 7:36 span of the third period to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 road win against the Los Angeles Kings Saturday afternoon at the STAPLES Center. Defenseman Shea Weber posted two goals and an assist and center Peter Forsberg contributed three helpers as Nashville won its fourth game in a row.
With the victory the Predators improve to 44-18-4 on the season and open up a two-point lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference standings. Nashville returns to action tomorrow night against the Anaheim Ducks in the Honda Center. Game time is 7:00 p.m. CT and the action will be broadcast on FSN South, FSN South HD, and WGFX 104.5-FM.
Penalties played a key role in Saturday's game--or, more importantly, the lack thereof on the part of the Predators. The disciplined visitors only took two trips to the box over three periods, limiting Los Angeles' time with the manpower advantage to a total of 3:59. Kings forward Michael Cammalleri scored one of his two goals in the game during one of those power plays, but Nashville handily won the special teams battle. The Predators' hard work and speed drew numerous penalties then the power play units made the Kings pay, converting on a healthy three of seven opportunities.
Nashville, playing without center Jason Arnott who sat with the flu, dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the game. The Predators got on the board first, scoring on their third power-play opportunity to take a 1-0 lead at 18:11 of the opening period. The play started with a point shot by blueliner Ryan Suter that was tipped en route by Alexander Radulov and blocked by Kings defenseman Rob Blake in front. J.P. Dumont swept the puck back to Weber low in the left circle and the sophomore rearguard beat goaltender Sean Burke to the short side.
Jamie Lundmark knotted the game at 1-1 when he finished off a 2-on-1 at the 3:36 mark of the second period. Weber then recaptured the lead for Nashville with his second of the night less than three minutes later. He pinched into the offensive zone to cut off an outlet pass by Lundmark, one-timing the attempted clear past Burke for an unassisted tally at 6:15.
Dumont had two prime scoring chances around the 7:00 mark, but L.A. netted the next goal to again tie the game. Derek Armstrong made a nice play off the left side boards in Nashville's zone to expose a defensive miscue and set up a 2-on-0 for Blake and Cammalleri. Predators goalie Chris Mason had no chance on the backdoor pass to Cammalleri, which made it 2-2 at 14:50.
Cammalleri then gave Los Angeles its first lead with his power-play goal at 5:07 of the third. His second of the night came on a rebound chance with one second remaining on a delay of game penalty to Nashville defenseman Marek Zidlicky.
That would be the extent of the Kings' scoring in the game, as Nashville went on to close out the game with two goals on the power play and two at even strength. Paul Kariya scored two of those, first converting a beautiful aerial centering pass from Forsberg for an extra-strength tally at 5:47 to draw Nashville even at 3-3. With Nashville again on the power play, Zidlicky pocketed the eventual game-winner just under four minutes later when he banked a shot from the left circle off the post and Burke before it trickled across the goal line at 9:39.
Dumont put a relatively harmless-looking wrist shot high over the glove of Burke exactly three minutes later to make it 5-3, then Kariya posted his second goal 44 seconds after that by cleaning up a centering feed from linemate Martin Erat, who had powered his way behind the Kings net on a rush.
NOTES: Shea Weber notched his second 2-goal performance in 9 games and has 4 points (2g-2a) in the past two games. He led all skaters with 7 shots, a career-high for him... After going pointless in his first three games as a Predator, Peter Forsberg has amassed 6 points (1g-5a) in the four games since. The one goal was the game-winner over Detroit one week ago. His 3 assists vs. Los Angeles mark his first 3-point game for Nashville... Paul Kariya scored twice Saturday and has 5 goals and 1 assist over the past four games... J.P. Dumont posted 1 goal and 1 assist and has not gone two games without a point since he had a seven-game point streak snapped in mid-January. He has 9 points (5g-4a) in his last seven games... Defenseman Marek Zidlicky contributed a goal and an assist and now has 5 points (1g-4a) in the last four games... Alexander Radulov's assist gives him points in three straight games. He also connected for two shootout goals in that span... Kimmo Timonen's assist gives him assists in each of his last five games. He has 7 helpers over those five matches... Vern Fiddler collected an assist Saturday and has points in three straight games (2g-1a)... Martin Erat posted an assist and has points in three straight games as well (1g-2a)... Goaltender Chris Mason has two victories in Nashville's last three games.