Kings look to tie 29-year-old record vs. Preds
By Antohny Giornalista, STATS Senior Writer
Anze Kopitar had yet to be born when the Los Angeles Kings last earned
points in nine straight games. In fact, neither had the Nashville
Kopitar and the Kings look to reach that feat for the first time in 29 years as they host the Predators on Saturday.
Los Angeles' point streak (6-0-2) is its longest since going 6-0-0 with
two ties from Nov. 2-18, 2000. A win or loss after regulation versus
the Predators (6-7-1) would give the Kings (10-4-2) points in nine
consecutive contests for the first time since Oct. 18-Nov. 5, 1980,
when they went 9-0-0 with one tie.
was born less than seven years later, and now he's leading Los Angeles'
current surge. The former first round pick is having a breakout season
with 13 goals and 13 assists.
and their star center now will try to take advantage of a matchup with
Nashville, which entered the league 18 years after Los Angeles' last
nine-game point streak. The Predators have been shut out in two of
their last three road games, including a 4-0 loss to Anaheim on
Thursday night that dropped them to 3-4-1 on the road.
Los Angeles is 5-1-1 at Staples Center and coming off an outstanding
performance there. The Kings rallied for a four-goal third period in a
5-2 win over defending champion Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Kopitar tied it with his second goal early in the third and Jarrett Stoll scored the go-ahead goal with 7:51 to play.
That gritty performance illustrates how high Los Angeles' confidence is after six seasons out of the playoffs.
"Our maturity level is a lot higher," said Kopitar, didn't score his
13th goal last season until game No. 50. "We're playing with a lot of
desperation, and that's a good thing. We were losing these kinds of
games last year, going into the third period behind the champions. Now
we're sticking with it for 60 minutes and getting the right result."
Kopitar and his linemates, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, have totaled 48 points in 11 games together.
"We're looking for that line to be an elite line in the game," Kings
coach Terry Murray said. "When you have that kind of expectation on you
(from) a coaching staff, then there is a need to respond, and I'm
seeing a more consistent effort that shows (Kopitar) wants to be that
Injuries, meanwhile, have forced Nashville to shuffle its lines.
Defenseman Shea Weber, winger J.P. Dumont and rookie center Colin
Wilson sat out against the Ducks because of injuries after playing in
the Predators' last game. Weber has a bruised foot, Dumont suffered an
upper-body injury in Tuesday's practice and Wilson has a sore groin.
Their status for Saturday's game is uncertain.
The Predators have also been without winger Martin Erat for the last
three games due to a lower-body injury, but captain Jason Arnott
returned to the lineup after missing six games because of arm and
Winger Jordin Tootoo,
meanwhile, made his season debut after missing 13 games due to a hip
flexor injury. He was the 30th player Nashville has used, matching last
Arnott took over for Weber as the point on the Predators' power play, which went 0 for 5.
Nashville converted 35.7 percent (5 for 14) of its chances with the man
advantage in going 4-0 against Los Angeles last season.