Jason Arnott celebrates his hat trick-clinching goal with David Legwand, who assisted on the tally.
Jason Arnott notched his seventh career hat trick with one goal in each period to lift the Predators to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night in front of 15,698 at the Sommet Center. The victory snapped a five-game losing streak in the Preds first game back from a three-game road trip.
Dan Ellis performed admirably in net to record his seventh win of the season for Nashville, recording 34 saves, many of which were of high-difficulty level while killing one of L.A.’s six power plays.
Nashville was back to its old ways of pouncing on the visitors from the early whistle. It didn’t take long either, as the pressure paid off on just its second shot at 2:34. Arnott got the goal, converting a pretty pass from new linemate Jordin Tootoo for his 10th goal of the season. Cutting up the left boards, Tootoo navigated a pass through a pair of Kings d-men and onto the tape of Arnott’s stick for a quick one timer past the outstretched toe of goalie Jason Labarbera.
The assist helped Tootoo attain a career high for points in a season (11).
L.A.’s road-weary legs were evident in the early going – it played Friday night in Columbus – but the Kings began to pick up the intensity as the first period’s midpoint approached, and some lengthy stays in the Preds zone produced the equalizer at 11:10. Alexander Frolov played set-up man on the tally, feeding Lubomir Vishnovsky from the corner. Vishnovsky ripped a laser that goalie Dan Ellis had no chance on into top far corner.
The Kings sustained the pressure through the end of the first, but Ellis was on top of his game, stoning a two-on-one chance at the 13-minute mark and making several key saves on a Kings power play that came shortly thereafter. Los Angeles outshot the Predators through 20 minutes by a 15-11 margin.
Teams settled in at a modest pace through the opening minutes of the second, and it wasn’t until a penalty to Vishnovsky at 10:23 that the action paced up. But it was the Kings who scored on the ensuing Nashville power play, as Patrick O’Sullivan stole the puck at his own blue line, and tucked a backhander past a sprawling Ellis while in on a breakaway.
Five penalty calls in a span of 3:51 ultimately paid off for the Predators a few minutes later, as they cashed in with a man-advantage goal and notched another shortly after a King returned to the ice.
The first came skating four-on-four at 12:43 of the middle frame. After meticulously cycling around the outside of the Kings’ triangle formation, Arnott fed Ryan Suter at the right point, and his blast snuck past a screened Labarbera. Dumont created the most havoc down low, and picked up his second assist of the night for his efforts. He now has four points (2g-2a) in his last three games.
Just 1:38 later, Arnott visited the red-light district for the second time to help Nashville reclaim a one-goal lead. This time, it was Vernon Fiddler that fed the Preds captain, springing him loose down the left side of the L.A. zone. He snapped a quick wrist shot from the middle of the face-off circle and it beat the netminder through his five-hole.
Suter also assisted, polishing off his second multiple point performance this year.
Radek Bonk attempts to get away from pressure applied by Patrick O'Sullivan in the Los Angeles zone.
The constant flow of penalty calls continued until the final buzzer of the second, but a valiant effort by the Predators penalty killers helped them retain a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. Four more calls, all to Nashville, resulted in three more power plays for the Kings, one of them a five-on-three that lasted 1:09. Ellis was again a brick wall in net, and the killers let very few shots through, to leave Los Angeles shaking its heads as it headed to the locker room.
Arnott finished off the hat trick with power-play goal No. 2 at 3:04 of the third. Shortly after the expiration of a two-man advantage, David Legwand sent a cross-ice pass to Arnott who was stationed near the goal line to the net’s right side. He buried a one timer from a difficult angle to send the hats flying.
In addition to it being his first three-goal night since Nov. 16, 2005 as a Dallas Star (vs. Anaheim), it was his first four-point (3g-1a) outing as a Predator. The 6-4, 220 pounder now has seven points (4g-3a) in the last three games.
The tally also capped a 2-for-6 night on the power play, giving the Predators five man-advantage goals in 16 opportunities over the last three games.
Los Angeles wouldn’t go quietly into the night though cutting the margin to one when a fluky bounce ended up on the stick of O’Sullivan. With Ellis focused on an initial shot from the opposite side, O’Sullivan had an empty net to put his second goal of the evening into.
Even with Labarbera pulled for the extra attack, L.A. could hardly muster a final push for the game-tying goal, entering the zone off-sides on two occasions as time ran down.
The Kings used 10 power-play shots to claim a 37-32 edge in the shots-on-goal-department.
The Predators now turn right back around and play an early evening game tomorrow against Central Division foe Columbus as Nationwide Arena. Start time is slated for 4 p.m. CT, and though there is no local television coverage, all the action can be caught on WGFX-104.5 The Zone.
Game Notes: Nashville scratched Kevin Klein, Ville Koistinen and Martin Erat, while Los Angeles sat Brian Willsie, Dustin Brown and Scott Thornton… The Preds are now 12-2-1 when scoring the game’s first goal and 3-4-0 vs. the Pacific Division… Nashville is 2-2-0 this season on the front-end of these situations, defeating Vancouver on Nov. 1 while dropping decisions to St. Louis (Oct. 10) and Minnesota (Dec. 18)… Nashville is 12-16-6 all-time against Los Angeles, but 6-3-1 over the past three seasons… The Predator penalty killers have extinguished 44 of the last 47 chances they’ve faced… Jason Arnott now leads the team in goals with 12. He was also solid in the face-off circle tonight, winning 17 of 25 draws (68%)… Greg Zanon blocked a game-high four shots… Shea Weber led the team in ice time (21:51) with Ryan Suter (21:49) following close behind…Los Angeles’ next trip to the Music City comes March 13.
PREDATORS HEAD COACH BARRY TROTZ On the game…
We showed some resilience. We wanted to do a couple of things. We wanted to get a good start, and we did. Arnie scored a goal there. We did a good job in the first ten minutes, dictating how we wanted to play, good defensively, not giving them much, doing the right things. They had one shift and bad coverage. With Vishnovsky in the slot, they scored a goal , got a little momentum, we took a penalty, we were scrambling a little bit at the end of that first period.
On special teams…
We took too many penalties, bad penalties, poor decision penalties, that kept momentum on us for a little while. Penalty killers dug in. Your best penalty killer is your goaltender and Ellis dug in during that stretch. It was huge special teams for us. They have a good power play. We were able to contain it.
I think Arnie is showing some leadership during these times when things aren’t going as you’d like. I think he’s growing into a solid captain. I praise him on his work ethic. His work ethic has been consistent throughout the season.
JASON ARNOTT On the game...
Huge win, we haven’t been winning as of late, we played not too bad the last six or seven games but tonight was a different level and we got two points.
On the fans...
It was exciting! These fans are loud and excited every night no matter what the team is doing. They are behind us 110% and to play in front of them is fantastic.
On staying focused...
That’s hockey. We got to get our head right an get on the plane to Columbus. We have been traveling a lot lately but we need to just keep going and enjoy the Christmas break. But stay focused. J.P. and Tootoo had some big plays tonight. Ive been trying to just get the puck in and stay positive and tonight it went in. It was a solid team effort.
JORDIN TOOTOO On playing more this season...
It’s a great opportunity for me. Im trying to make the best of it shift by shift. When you play with good players you step it up Im playing with players who are calm and collected out there.
On working on his game...
I'm just taking it one day at a time. Ive been working on my game since the day I got here I know I can be a major asset. It just takes time. You machure as a player as the years go on and you get more comfortable the more you play. Im having fun. Just trying to take this opportunity and have the best with it.
On containing the lead...
It was good that we weren’t the team chasing. Its big when you get that first goal. That’s something that weve been working on. It’s a really good thing to have that lead we are a different team when we have that lead. Our team is really good with that lead and that is something that we have to continue to work on.
Los Angeles Kings Goaltender – Jason LaBarbera On the losing streak...
I really don’t know what to tell you. We played our asses off. We were missing some of our key guys and we had a lot of guys step-up and play hard. We just couldn’t pull it out in the end. We played really hard, but we just didn’t pull it out.
On Nashville’s early goal...
It didn’t really affect us too much. When you break it down, it was probably the power play; they had two power play goals. We had a 5 on 3 in the second, but we didn’t really create much there and they came down and scored right after that. I mean, we played hard, we just didn’t get the win.
On the recent officiating...
I think it was fine; it went both ways. Both teams were called both ways, so there were no controversial plays out there, which is kind of nice this time, but when you’re losing, nothing seems to go right for you. Nothing seems to be going right for us right now.
On Patrick O’Sullivan’s play throughout the game...
(O’Sullivan) played a great game. He probably played 30 minutes tonight. He was out on the ice for pretty much every situation. The pucks just weren’t going in around the net for us. They capitalized on their chances and it’s been the same (for us) for the last little while here.
On Arnott’s third goal...
I didn’t even see him. I didn’t even know he was there. The guy walked off the half-wall and I was playing the shot and he passed it, I just tried to get over. I don’t know if it hit my skate and then the post or post then my skate, but I didn’t even see him shoot it. It was kind of on my blindside. He did a good job of hiding over there. He played a pretty good game.
Los Angeles Kings Center – Patrick O’Sullivan On the game...
With two guys out, everyone else has to pick up the slack. I think you saw that tonight. Obviously, Kopitar didn’t play a lot with his other two guys out. We did what we could and it wasn’t good enough. It’s frustrating though, being in a situation like this makes it all that much harder. We have to come back after this break refreshed and kind of look at it as a new starting point. Hopefully, this time away from the game will be good for everybody. I mean, it’s only three days, but it’s good to be with family and really think about it for a bit. Hopefully that helps.
On his spark from the beginning of the game...
I don’t know if it’s back-to-back games, not worrying about how you feel, because everyone doesn’t feel that good and playing, I guess. I felt good tonight. I tried to skate as much as I could and tried to create some offense.