Predators look to continue playoff push vs. Kings

PA Stats Inc
By: PA Stats Inc
Mar 15, 2009
The Hockey News

Predators look to continue playoff push vs. Kings

PA Stats Inc
By: PA Stats Inc
Mar 15, 2009

By Anthonry Giornalista
STATS Senior Writer

Nashville (34-30-5) at Los Angeles (29-29-10) 10:30 pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Nashville Predators haven't been
able to win on the road in recent weeks unless they've shut out
their opponent. No team has been blanked at home more than the
one they will visit Monday night.

Struggling on offense with Jason Arnott hurt, the Predators look
to hold the Los Angeles Kings in check in a matchup of Western
Conference playoff hopefuls.

Arnott, who leads Nashville (34-30-5) with 27 goals, has missed
two straight games with an upper body injury and his status for
this contest is uncertain. However, the Predators have not had
great success on offense even with the veteran center in the

Nashville is among the lowest-scoring teams in the league with
2.48 goals per game, 2.21 on the road. The Predators have scored
two goals or fewer in 16 of their last 17 road games, going

That has made the need for strong goaltending and tough defense
even more important away from the Sommet Center. In fact, each
of Nashville's three wins over its last six road games have been
by virtue of shutouts.

The Predators won at Phoenix 2-0 on Saturday night to snap a
three-game losing streak. They are among a group of seven teams
within six points of each other for the West's final two playoff
spots, a logjam in which Los Angeles (29-29-10) is at the

Nashville was able to earn crucial points by handing the Coyotes
their ninth shutout of the season, putting them in a tie with
the Kings for most in the league.

Los Angeles has been shut out an NHL-high six times at home. The
Kings are returning to Staples Center after scoring a total of
three goals in two straight road losses.

Los Angeles has faced goaltender Dan Ellis in its two games
versus Nashville this season, scoring five goals en route to
losing both contests. The Kings, though, may have to contend
with Pekka Rinne for the first time.

Rinne, who made one start in two years for Nashville prior to
this season, made 18 saves against the Coyotes for his seventh
shutout of the season. He is 12-3-1 since Feb. 1 and has three
shutouts during that span, including the Predators' last two on
the road.

"We all knew Pekka was a solid goaltender but what he's done
this year has been pretty amazing," Nashville winger J.P. Dumont
said. "We have two good goaltenders and we know every time they
make a big save we have to score big goals for them."

Dumont, who leads the Predators with 53 points (14 goals, 39
assists), has goals in consecutive games after being held
without a point in his previous three. He has seven goals and
seven assists in his last nine games against the Kings.

Dumont scored in both meetings this season, including a 3-1
victory at Los Angeles on Nov. 15 in the most recent matchup.

Erik Ersberg stopped 19 of 21 shots before being pulled in the
final seconds. He is 1-2-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average in
three games versus Nashville.

The Kings got a solid effort from Ersberg against Pacific
Division-leading San Jose on Saturday night but lost 2-1 in a

"We hung in there," said Ersberg, who made 38 saves before
stopping five of seven shots he faced in the shootout. "If we
play like this over the last 14, we can make things

Los Angeles leading scorer Anze Kopitar was held off the
scoresheet, but he has a five-game point streak at home (four
goals, six assists).

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Predators look to continue playoff push vs. Kings