The Nashville Predators are at a crossroads for the 2012-13 season.
The Predators were blasted by the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night by a score of 5-1, which was Nashville’s sixth regulation loss in their last eight games. The Predators hung around through the first two periods, trailing only by a 1-0 score heading into the third. Los Angeles exploded in the third period and hung up four more goals on Pekka Rinne.
Jeff Carter scored the first three goals of the game for the Kings to earn the natural hat trick. Carter scored two goals in 19 seconds in the third period to put the game away for Los Angeles. Mike Richards and Dwight King added two more goals for the Kings in the third period to give them a 5-0 lead. Gabriel Bourque finally added his sixth goal of the season to get the Predators on the scoreboard, but that would be the beginning and end of Nashville’s scoring for the night.
The Predators played a decent game through the first two periods. They were out-shooting the Kings by a 13-6 margin through the first two periods despite losing 1-0. Nashville finished the game out-shooting the Kings 19-16 but gave up five goals. Defensively, the Predators were not good in the third period. The Kings got point-blank chances right in front of the net, and Rinne was left out to dry despite not having his best effort.
With the loss, the Predators are now 9-9-5 on the season and sit in 11th place in the Western Confernce as of Tuesday morning. The Predators are consistently losing in a season where long losing streaks could do serious damage toward playoff aspirations. Nashville will be off until Friday when they take on the Edmonton Oilers in the first game of a set of back-to-backs at Bridgestone Arena against the Oilers and Minnesota Wild.
Five things about Monday night’s game…
- Jonathan Bernier continues to dominate the Predators. He stopped 18 of 19 shots to improve his career record against the Predators to 7-1-0. Nashville just doesn’t seem to have an answer for Bernier.
- Gabriel Bourque scored his sixth goal of the season to take over the goal-scoring lead for the Predators. Bourque continues to be a valuable two-way asset for the Predators.
- Jeff Carter recorded a hat trick for the second time in his career against the Predators. The last time he did it with the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nashville, and the Predators won that game.
- Nashville’s defense, which was the strong point for the team earlier in the season, has been weak for them lately. The Predators have given up 20 goals in their last five games. On a team where scoring goals has been a very big issue, allowing that many goals gives the Predators an extremely slim chance to win hockey games.
- For the second time in three games, Pekka Rinne was pulled out of the game for Chris Mason after giving up five goals. While the defense in front of him has not been anywhere near as good it normally is, Rinne hasn’t played his best lately for the Predators either. Defense and goaltending go hand-in-hand.
Three stars of Monday night’s game…
1. Jeff Carter, LAK… Carter recorded a natural hat trick and played arguably his best game of the season for the Kings. He was a force all game long.
2. Jonathan Bernier, LAK… Bernier stopped 18 of 19 shots and continued his dominance over the Predators. He wasn’t tested too much.
3. Slava Voynov, LAK… Voynov recorded three assists on the night for the Kings and led the team in ice time with 26:07.