Thanks to Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick, the Los Angeles Kings are heading home after a very successful road trip.
Kopitar scored the only goal of the shootout and Quick stopped all three shooters he faced to give the Kings a 2-1 victory against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night. Kopitar came in, deked and lifted a high backhander over Pekka Rinne into the net for the win.
Los Angeles is 5-3-0, including a 3-1-0 record on a trip through the Southeast; two of the victories came in the shootout. Kings coach Darryl Sutter said the trip wasn't all that tiring, but that he's happy his team is above .500 despite playing only two of its first eight games at home.
"What's more important is we played six of our first eight on the road, which is the most in the conference," he said. "So, we still have our heads above water after six road games. That's what's more important."
Nashville concluded a five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record.
Quick stopped 33 shots through 65 minutes. Rinne finished with 28 saves. Each side had two shots in overtime, and the Kings killed off a Nashville power play after Alec Martinez was called for high-sticking 1:29 into the extra period.
"He was sharp tonight," Sutter said of his goaltender. "He was good early, and it's a good test for him, because it's a building where he's had a tough time."
Nashville coach Barry Trotz said Quick made the difference.
"We just couldn't find an answer for Jonathan Quick," Trotz said. "He made some incredible saves in the second period. I think if he didn't have a night like he did, we probably would have lit them up."
Matt Cullen , one of Nashville's free-agent signings this summer, scored his first goal with the Predators to open the scoring at 10:33 of the opening period. He pulled the puck out of a tangle of skates just outside the crease and lifted it over Quick.
"I just want to contribute," Cullen said. "They haven't been coming easy, so it was nice to see a good ending."
Kings defenseman Slava Voynov tied the game when he took a cross-ice pass by Mike Richards and beat Rinne from the right circle at 19:18.
Voynov's goal capped a wild first period that saw each team finish with 15 shots on goal.
The Predators had the better of the play in the second period, outshooting Los Angeles 11-5, but were unable to get a shot past Quick.
Rinne got the Predators to overtime by stopping Richards on a 2-on-0 shorthanded break with just over six minutes remaining in the third period. Quick made two saves on Patric Hornqvist during Nashville's overtime power play.
"It takes a lot of courage to kill a 4-on-3," Sutter said. "Because, generally, you have to get in front of a puck, a hard shot, somewhere."