Predators vs. Kings Preview
The Predators visit Staples Center on Saturday night having beaten the Kings seven of the last eight meetings.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Kings –175 money line favorites for Saturday's game against the Predators. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 67% of more than 638 bets for this game have been placed on the Kings -175.
However, Nashville may not have an easy time winning its sixth straight in Los Angeles. The Kings (9-3-0) are off to their best 12-game start since 1980-81, when they opened 10-1-1. Their 5-0-0 start at home is their longest unbeaten stretch to open a campaign since that same season.
Jonathan Quick is coming off his first shutout of the season, making 24 saves as the Kings beat Tampa Bay 1-0 on Thursday for their fifth victory in six games.
"Everybody is reading off each other very well," Quick said. "Everyone is moving together on defense. We're winning faceoffs, clearing the puck, doing everything well."
Coach Terry Murray refused to view the win against the then-Eastern Conference-leading Lightning as anything more than just another victory, even with the Kings taking over the NHL lead with 18 points.
"I don't look at it as a statement game," Murray said. "It's just a big game that you have to respond to. ... There were a few hits, a few confrontations, a little old-time hockey."
Justin Williams scored for the fourth straight game, and he leads the Kings with six goals and 12 points. However, he has one point in eight career games against Nashville.
Norris Trophy finalist Drew Doughty returned after missing six games with an apparent concussion and played a game-high 24 minutes, 44 seconds. Doughty has also struggled against the Predators in his career, registering a goal and an assist with a minus-5 rating.
Quick improved to 8-1-0 with a 1.64 goals-against average Thursday, but he's 0-3-1 with a 3.24 GAA in four starts against Nashville.
Once-hot Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne has struggled of late, having been in net during Nashville's three consecutive losses. He gave up at least three goals in each of those starts with an .867 save percentage.
Nashville (5-3-3) fell 4-3 in Phoenix on Wednesday after taking a lead into the third period. It was the first time in 24 one-goal games that the Predators lost in regulation dating to a 4-3 defeat to San Jose on Feb. 6, going 18-0-5 in such games.
Francis Bouillon, Sergei Kostitsyn and Patric Hornqvist scored for the Predators.
"We did a decent job, but we're going to need to find a way to win some games here," coach Barry Trotz said.Nashville is in a stretch of playing 11 of 13 on the road, where it has lost two straight following a 3-0-0 start.