Slumping Predators look to snap Kings’ point streak

( – While the Nashville Predators are in danger of falling
back in the Central Division standings, the Los Angeles Kings are using a
current point streak to move up the Western Conference ladder.

The Predators hope to get on track Saturday night in Los Angeles as they visit
the Kings in a matchup of clubs moving in opposite directions.

Nashville has gone just 1-7-0 over its last eight games, with that slump
dropping it into a tie with the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Central
Division. Both teams have 91 points, but the Blues own the current tiebreaker,
having played two fewer games.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, is 4-0-1 over its last five games to move a point up
on the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card berth in the Western Conference.
The Kings have also crept within a point of the Vancouver Canucks for third
place in the Pacific Division and are just two points behind the second-place
Calgary Flames.

Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver are all in action along with Los Angeles
tonight, while Nashville will be keeping an eye on St. Louis’ home contest
with Minnesota.

The Predators have been held to a pair of goals or fewer six times over their
last eight games, failing to score even once in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the San
Jose Sharks. Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne took the loss with 19 saves.

“They capitalized on the power play and we didn’t,” Nashville defenseman Roman
Josi said. “It’s so important to make your chance count. We just have to find
a way to score more goals.”

Nashville plays the third contest of a four-game road trip that ends in
Anaheim on Sunday and it is unknown if Rinne or Carter Hutton will start

Rinne is a solid 9-6-1 lifetime versus the Kings with a 2.93 goals against
average and .888 save percentage in 16 meetings, while Hutton beat them the
only time he faced them despite giving up three goals on 38 shots.

The Kings are coming off their own shutout victory, with Jonathan Quick
posting 19 saves in a 4-0 win over the Canucks on Thursday. It was Quick’s
fifth shutout of the season and 36th of his career.

Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik tallied for
the Kings.

“Our power play scored a big goal early and we scored a goal early in the
third, which basically sealed it for us,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.

Toffoli netted his 20th goal of the season in his 61st game. He had 12 tallies
in 62 contests last season.

Quick is 2-6-2 with a 3.01 GAA and .880 save percentage in 11 starts against
the Preds.

Nashville has won four in a row over Los Angeles, including a wild 7-6
overtime win when the clubs last met on Jan. 3 in L.A. Josi had the winner for
the Preds at the 18-second mark of overtime after Nashville blew a 5-1 lead.

The Kings forced overtime when Dwight King, Gaborik and Jeff Carter scored
during a 1;27 span late in the third period.

The Predators have also won three of their last four in Los Angeles.