LA Kings blow 3-goal lead, rally late to blast Predators 7-4
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings took a three-goal lead over powerhouse Nashville into the third period, and they blew it all. They somehow ended up winning their home opener by three goals anyway.
After the Kings slumped to the bottom of the Pacific Division last season, they're back with more aggression and better forechecking taught by their new coach.
These Kings also have a whole lot more entertainment value.
Alex Iafallo scored the tiebreaking goal with 59 seconds to play, and the Kings wasted that three-goal lead before rallying to win their home opener under coach Todd McLellan, 7-4 over the Predators on Saturday night.
Iafallo got his first goal of the season on a rebound of Dustin Brown's shot before Brown and Drew Doughty added empty-net goals seven seconds apart, sending the Kings to the 1,000th home victory in franchise history and a wild start to their 20th season at Staples Center.
"A lot of things have changed, the way we're playing," said Brown, who had a goal and two assists. "We're way more aggressive. We're getting us a lot of opportunity to work on playing with leads, which we need more work on. We had a tough stretch maybe the first 10 minutes of the third, but then we had a lot of grade-A scoring chances before we had the goal that put us ahead. I think it's encouraging that we're not down in the dumps after blowing a three-goal lead at home."
Ilya Kovalchuk and Michael Amadio each had a goal and an assist while the Kings scored four consecutive goals spanning the first two periods. Captain Anze Kopitar and Kyle Clifford also scored during the barrage, but the Kings gave it away while Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene and Colton Scissons scored in the first 11 ½ minutes of the third period for the Preds.
"Obviously, the past month here has been a lot of learning," Kings defenseman Joakim Ryan said. "New systems, especially for the forecheck (and) neutral zone. It's a little tough to implement into a game situation right away, but we've been at it for a month, and I think when we're all on the same page and everyone is doing their individual job, it works really well like you saw tonight. I think it can be really successful."
Mikael Granlund also scored as Nashville opened a three-game West Coast trip with another big offensive performance undermined by key mistakes late.
Two days after the Predators rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the third period for a 6-5 win over Washington, they nearly pulled off a comeback win in the final frame for the third time already this season. The Preds have scored a whopping 23 goals in their first five games, but have yielded 19 while going 3-2-0.
"It's a good wakeup call for us this early in the season," Duchene said. "I think that was our worst game of the year. ... There's lots of good things in the third (period) we can build on, but we shot ourselves in the foot. This one stings, because we thought we were going to overtime at least, and I like our team in overtime."
Jack Campbell made 28 saves for Los Angeles, and Juuse Saros stopped 30 shots for Nashville.
Although the Kings are coming off the franchise's worst season since 2007-08, that team never gave up 21 goals in any four-game stretch, as these Kings have done to start the season under McLellan. But Los Angeles has been highly entertaining while scoring 18 goals in four games, an impressive turnaround for one of the NHL's lowest-scoring teams last season.
Granlund put the Predators ahead 4:55 after the opening faceoff, but Amadio evened it with a rebound goal when Kovalchuk screened Saros and tipped a puck to the net by defenseman Sean Walker, who had two assists in an outstanding performance.
Kovalchuk made it 4-1 before Arvidsson got his third goal of the young season early in the third. Duchene's power-play goal with 9:04 left in regulation made it 4-3, and Scissons tied it 34 seconds later.
"In the first two periods, I thought we were outworked," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They were more on their toes, and more ready to go than we were. They grabbed the energy in their home opener, and they took it to us for really two periods."
NOTES: Kings D Derek Forbort still hasn't played this season due to an undisclosed injury. ... Nashville D Dan Hamhuis returned to the lineup after sitting out two games. Matt Irwin was scratched. ... Ryan Ellis and Ryan Johansen had two assists apiece for the Preds.
Predators: Visit the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday in the second stop of their three-game trip.
Kings: Host the Vegas Golden Knights on Sunday in the second of five home games in eight days.