Kings-Predators Preview

Martin Jones and Ben Scrivens have been superb in replacing the

injured Jonathan Quick for the Los Angeles Kings.

The Nashville Predators aren’t having the same success filling

the void left by Pekka Rinne.

Jones will likely be back in net looking to rebound from his

first career loss when the Kings visit the struggling Predators on

Saturday night.

Los Angeles (25-9-4) has been without Quick – the 2012 Conn

Smythe Trophy winner – since he suffered a groin injury in a 3-2

shootout loss at Buffalo on Nov. 12. The Kings haven’t been fazed

by his absence, though, going 14-3-3 behind Jones and Scrivens.

Scrivens has compiled a 1.61 goals-against average while going

6-2-3 since Quick got hurt, but Jones may be an even bigger

surprise. The 23-year-old rookie netminder won his first eight

starts behind a 0.98 GAA, tying the NHL record for the best start

to a career set by Bob Froese with Philadelphia in 1982-83.

Jones’ attempt to take sole ownership of the record fell short

Monday. He gave up goals on the first two shots he faced before

giving up two more on the next 21 in a 5-2 defeat to Dallas, only

the second loss in 11 December games for Los Angeles.

“I just thought about stopping the next one, which is all you

can do because what’s done is done,” said Jones, who has a 1.31 GAA

and a .953 save percentage in nine starts.

He’s won all four of his road games behind a 1.23 GAA, while

Scrivens has lost his last two while allowing five goals on 80

shots.

While the Kings haven’t been slowed much by Quick’s absence, the

same can’t be said for the Predators (16-18-4), who are struggling

to replace Rinne.

He’s been out for over two months with a hip infection, and

rookies Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec haven’t been nearly as

effective.

Hutton has had the bulk of the duty, going 6-6-2 with a 3.35 GAA

in 17 games. He’s been pulled from two of his last three starts,

recording a 6.01 GAA.

Mazanec hasn’t been much better with an 0-5-1 record and 3.70

GAA in eight games – six starts.

It’s unclear who will get the nod and try to help Nashville snap

a season high-tying five-game losing streak, but Hutton may not

have helped his cause in Friday’s 4-1 defeat at Dallas. He gave up

a goal after 42 seconds on the first shot before finishing with 30

saves.

“It was definitely a tough way to start,” Hutton said. “I tried

to battle, but giving up four is not good enough on any night.”

Some offensive production could also give the Predators a lift.

They’ve totaled nine goals in five games after netting 10 while

winning the three previous contests.

Craig Smith was held without a point by the Stars after scoring

four goals and assisting on another over the three previous games.

The center leads Nashville with 10 goals, but he has none in eight

straight meetings with the Kings.

David Legwand leads the team with 25 points, but he’s gone four

games without one. The veteran center had two goals in a 4-3 win at

Los Angeles on Nov. 2.

The Kings won 2-1 in a shootout in Nashville on Oct. 17.