That's not how the story is supposed to end.
Trailing 4-1 in the third period, the Nashville Predators seemed destined to pull off a herculean effort again, just two days after they'd done the very same thing in their previous game. Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene and Colton Sissons scored to tie the game, 4-4, in the first nine minutes of the final frame, but the Los Angeles Kings found the game-winner in the final minute of regulation on Saturday in California.
Two empty-net goals for L.A. inflated the final score to 7-4, but Duchene didn't shy away from calling the loss a "wake-up call" for the Preds. The loss drops the Predators' record to 3-2-0 and starts their three-game road trip off on a frustrating note.
"It's a disappointing loss for two reasons," Duchene said. "One, I think we play 60 [minutes], we show what we can do, but we didn't. Secondly, it's impressive what we're capable of doing when we need to, but… you have to score three goals in the third period to tie it and four to win, and we get the three and it should be going to overtime. They get one at the end there, and that was disappointing, because I felt like we at least deserved a point, but it's a good wake-up call for us early in the season."
"Third period, I thought we played hard, but the first two periods, I thought we were outworked," Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette said. "They were more on their toes and ready to go more than we were, and they grabbed the energy in their home opener and they took it to us for really two periods."
Mikael Granlund gave the Preds a 1-0 lead when he went top shelf from a sharp angle less than five minutes into the opening frame, and Filip Forsberg assisted on the marker to give him points in all five games this season.
Video: NSH@LAK: Granlund roofs a wrister to open scoring
Michael Amadio and Anze Kopitar tallied for Los Angeles in the first period, and Kyle Clifford and Ilya Kovalchuk added two more in the second stanza.
"They were way better than us, plain and simple, for the first two periods, and we didn't play well at all so for some reason," Preds Captain Roman Josi said. "We just came out flat, and if it wasn't for [goaltender Juuse Saros], it could've been a lot worse. We battled back, but we can't dig ourselves a hole like that through two periods."
The Predators got one back early in the third when Arvidsson took a feed from Ryan Johansen and slid the puck over the line while falling to the seat of his pants to make it 4-2. The assist also allowed Johansen to extend his point streak to five games.
Video: NSH@LAK: Arvidsson nets goal at the doorstep
Then, on the power play, Duchene got a bounce in front and also extended his point streak to five games, as he converted for his second goal in as many outings. The marker also gives the Predators a power-play goal in four straight games, a feat they did not accomplish at all last season.
Video: NSH@LAK: Sissons ties the game with redirection
Just 34 seconds after Duchene's strike, Sissons redirected a Ryan Ellis shot past Jack Campbell to tie the game at 4-4, but with 59 seconds to play, Alex Iafallo put the winning goal past Saros.
The Kings put two more into an empty net before the final horn sounded in a game that left that Predators expressing disappointment in what could have been.
"You got to give [the Kings] a lot of credit," Duchene said. "They did a lot of good things. They were the better team through 40 [minutes], they outplayed us, they pushed us around a little bit, but at the same time, if you're going to shoot yourself in the foot, it's better to do it at the start of the year and learn from it than do it at the end of the year. We've got to take the lessons from tonight. That one stings because when we tied it, we at least believed we were going to OT, and we like our team in OT. It's disappointing."
Video: NSH Recap: Predators' rally falls short in 7-4 loss
Saturday marked the 400th NHL game for Preds forwards Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok.
Rocco Grimaldi missed his second-straight game with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Dan Hamhuis re-entered the Nashville lineup on Saturday; Matt Irwin was the lone healthy scratch.
The Predators will continue their road trip in Nevada when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday before finishing up in Arizona against the Coyotes on Thursday.