After a scoreless 1st period, the Nashville Predators used a 3-goal 2nd period to set the table for a 5-2 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings in a possible playoff preview at Bridgestone Arena before a rowdy, sold-out crowd of 17, 113.
James Neal got the scoring started for the Preds with a quick shot off a face-off at 7:37 of the 2nd, beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. It marked Neal’s 400th NHL point. At 13:17 of the 2nd, a determined Mike Fisher followed his own shot in, diving for the rebound to get the puck in past Quick for a 2-0 Predators lead.
Fisher was officially honored before the game for having played in 1,000 NHL games. Fisher’s wife Carrie Underwood and baby Isiah stood next to Fisher on the ice as the ceremony took place. Fisher said, “It was special, obviously, the ceremony, and just trying to focus on the game. But yeah, with a lot of people in town you want to play well, and you feel like want to have a really good game. Everyone came to play tonight on our side.”
Forward Filip Forsberg scored his 30th goal of the season for the Preds to stake Nashville to a 3-0 lead at the 15:23 mark of the 2nd.
Predators coach Laviolette said after the game, “Yeah, it was a good first 40 minutes for us. The first period was fast and competitive. I thought our guys looked quick and we were able to generate some chances, a couple posts. They hit a post, I mean they’re a good hockey club. I do think we came out ready to play at the first opposing 0-0. We came out and did the same thing in the second and were able to capitalize on some other goals.”
The Kings changed goalies between periods, sending Jhonas Enroth between the pipes to start the 3rd, and it seemed to ignite the Kings as just 32 seconds into the frame Kings defenseman Drew Doughty beat Predators goalie Pekka Rinne with a deflection to make it 3-1, then just got their 2nd goal of the game with 12:00 remaining to cut the Preds lead to 3-2.
Nashville responded, however, with a nice goal from Ryan Johansen to go ahead 4-2 with 8:15 remaining. Late in the game, with the Kings goalie pulled, Roman Josi found the empty net for the 5-2 final.
Laviolette added, “I thought tonight we were really kicking and quick. Those are tough situations, it’s a 3-2 game and we’re finding ourselves short-handed a few times there in the third. Like I said, it’s not the third period that you want to dry up. The penalty kill really came through tonight. I liked the quickness that we had on pucks and the quickness that we had on battles and our numbers in battles. We were able to get clears 200 feet a few times.”
Rinne finished with 28 saves on 30 shots for the Predators.