For the second consecutive contest, the Nashville Predators failed to beat the opposition’s goaltender, this time being shut out by the Los Angeles Kings, 6-0, at the Staples Center Tuesday night. Jason LaBarbera stopped all 17 Predator shots on the night, dropping Nashville to 2-6-0 on the season.
“We thought we had our game together coming into tonight, but we ended up just standing around watching them create plays,” associate coach Brent Peterson said. “We just need to start from scratch, and see if we can generate some offense.”
Marek Zidlick battles the Kings Kyle Calder for a loose puck.
With both squads looked poised to improve on slow starts to the season – the Preds and Kings brought plenty of energy and tempo to the table in the opening minutes. But at 6:09 of the first, Los Angeles became the sixth consecutive Predators opponent to score the first goal of the game.
A blocked point shot by Rob Blake found its way right onto NHL leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri’s stick, and with Nashville netminder Chris Mason anticipating the shot getting through, the skilled forward eluded the diving goalie at potted his ninth marker of the season for a 1-0 lead.
The early momentum created from Cammalleri’s goal enabled Los Angeles to swarm the Predators zone, accumulating a 12-2 shots on goal advantage that it parlayed into a 2-0 lead at 15:40 of the opening frame. Lubomir Visnovsky stepped into a bullet of a slap shot set up by a drop pass by Ladislav Nagy that went over Mason’s shoulder and into the top corner of the net.
Alexander Radulov produced the Predators best chance of the first late in the period when he got the puck on the doorstep of the Kings goal, but couldn’t get a handle on it, and was pressured into corner. The scoreless first period for the Predators meant they have been out-scored 7-1 in the opening period of the past six games.
“We have to get back to working and not playing it safe,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “They were beating us to pucks, and we were playing tentative. We just need to get back to playing our game.”
Dan Ellis searches out a rebound through traffic.
The home team’s third goal came with 7:02 expired in the second period on a delayed penalty. With both defensemen focused on Derek Armstrong puck handling down the right side of the zone, Raitis Ivanans broke down the opposite side late, took a pass from his center while uncovered, and snuck it through Mason’s five-hole.
Seconds after the teams exchanged three-on-one rushes at opposite ends of the ice, David Legwand was whistled for the game’s first penalty, leading to a power play goal by Alexander Frolov at 10:01.
Frolov harnessed a bouncing puck from the left faceoff circle and let loose a one-timer to improve a power play already ranked sixth in the league. The man-advantage goal was the first allowed by the Preds since the first period of their Oct. 13 contest against Calgary.
The fourth marker also made way for Nashville backup goalie Dan Ellis to make his third relief appearance of the season. In 30:01 played, Mason finished with 15 stops, while Ellis stopped 15 of 17 in the second half of the match.
Ellis stood strong during the Kings relentless onslaught in the early moments of the third, stopping the first nine shots he faced. But the Kings would get their fifth tally of the night 9:23 into the final period of regulation on Nagy’s first goal of the season and third point of the night. On his second hack at a rebound from the top of the crease, Nagy batted one over the outstretched pad of the goalie to light the red lamp.
L.A.’s sixth and final goal was another man-advantage tally, this time coming at 18:40 while skating four-on-three. Cammalleri redirected a puck thrown toward the net by Jaroslav Modry for his second goal of the night.
Los Angeles became the third team in four games to outshoot Nashville, finishing with 36 shots to the Preds 17. Nashville was awarded just one power play in the game, while the Kings finished 2-4 on special teams.
The Predators return home from their three-game road trip to the west coast on Thursday to host their closest geographical opponent, the Atlanta Thrashers. It will be the first meeting between the two teams at the Sommet Center since March 29, 2003. Tickets are still available by calling (615) 770-PUCK, logging on to nashvillepredators.com or ticketmaster.com and by visiting the Sommet Center box office. The game will be televised on FSN South, preceded by a 30-minute edition of “Predators Game Night.”
GAME NOTES: Nashville scratched Ville Koistinen and Scott Nichol, while Los Angeles sent Scott Thornton and Kevin Dallman to the press box… The Predators are now 0-6-0 when their opponent scores first, but 2-0-0 when scoring the game’s first goal… Jason Arnott skated in his 900th career NHL game tonight. He is now just one assist shy of joining the 300 goals, 400 assists, 900 games club…Dan Hamhuis skated for a team-high 24:34 in the game, while J.P. Dumont put a team-high three shots on goal and Martin Erat doled out a game-high four hits…The next meeting between these two clubs comes Dec. 22 at the Sommet Center.
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