The Nashville Predators traveled to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Saturday night. As the game started out, it looked like the Preds would continue their ways as of recent. At 07:44, Jeff Carter (24) scored a PPG to put the Kings up 1-0. One of the keys to the game was to stay out of the box, and the Preds struggled with that early on.
The 2nd period had a lots of back-and-forth play from both sides, but both goalies stood tall, and the game would continue to be a 1-0 lead in favor of the Kings.
The 3rd period saw the Predators finally break through offensively from their scoring woes. Nashville was able to take advantage of a PP, as Craig Smith scored his 22nd goal of the year at 06:37. Just 1:06 later, Viktor Stalberg (1) showed his scoring ability that has been seen in Milwaukee. Pekka Rinne would stop all of the answers from Los Angeles and give the Preds a 2-1 victory.
Nashville looks to continue the final game of their West Coast trip as they take on the Anaheim Ducks.
On Friday night, the Ducks took on the streaking, Minnesota Wild. In a tough, Western Conference showdown, Anaheim was able to come out on top 2-1.
Anaheim is being led in points and assists by their captain, Ryan Getzlaf. On the season, Getzlaf has 22 goals, 41 assists, and 63 points. He has been a dominate force for Anaheim’s Pacific Division-leading 93 points. Corey Perry leads the team with 28 goals.
Keys to Watch
Best of the Western Conference
Tonight’s match-up will put the two best teams in the Western Conference against each other at Honda Center. Both teams have the exact same record (43-20-7), same amount of points (93), and the exact same record in the last 5 games (2-3-0). Nashville will be looking to return the favor to Anaheim that was given to the Preds on February 5th. In their last meeting, the Ducks visited Bridgestone Arena and defeated the Preds 5-2. Through 70 games, these two teams have been the top of the class in the Western Conference. It would be very likely to see these two teams face off later in the playoffs.
The win last night against the LA Kings was very significant. Recently, the Preds have only been able to beat teams that they are supposed to win against, and in many cases, couldn’t even beat the teams they are supposed to beat. Arizona was a struggling, bottom-cellar of the NHL team that has been on the decline for a majority of the year. Beating the defending Stanley Cup champions was significant. Is it a sign that the play of previously this season? Possibly. It helps that Pekka Rinne has been playing well on this road trip and having scoring from the 2nd and 3rd lines releases some of the pressure on the top lines. This secondary contribution will open up the offense and, hopefully, get the top scorers back on track (Neal, Forsberg, Ribeiro). Also, I predict that Coach Peter Laviolette will give Rinne the night off and allow Carter Hutton to get some work in tonight.
Viktor Stalberg making a statement
When Nashville signed Viktor Stalberg after his time with the the Chicago Blackhawks, the hope was that they were getting a scorer that can skate with high speed, quick hands and the ability to make things happen in the offensive zone. With nagging injuries, stints in Milwaukee with noted frustrations, it seems as though Stalberg is making his claim that he deserves to stay with the big club. He is getting more shifts, a consistent amount of TOI, and producing for Nashville, most recently his GWG against the Kings. He is doing what the coaching staff is requesting from him and he is going to make the decision on who to send to Milwaukee a difficult question to answer.
Last night’s momentum will need to continue for the Preds, as they are winning on this road trip. The Preds will have to come out with intensity to maintain their progression as one of the NHL’s best. If they come out flat, the Ducks will make them pay. Tonight will not be a late game! Starting at 7:00pm CDT, be sure to catch all of the action on FOX Sports Tennessee or you can listen live on 102.5 The Game.