The Nashville Predators put three first-period goals on the board for the third time in four games en route to setting or tying three franchise records in a 7-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night at the Staples Center.
In addition to tying a team mark for margin of victory and a setting a record for fastest three goals, J.P. Dumont attained a new mark for consecutive games with a goal.
''Everybody was disappointed with the game we played last night," Dumont said of the Preds loss at Anaheim on Monday. "Tonight, we put that game behind us and just wanted to make sure we all came out strong. Even with a 3-0 lead, we didn't sit back. We kept going.''
On the back end, goaltender Chris Mason looked on top of his game in his return to the Nashville net for the first time since Dec. 29, stopping all 28 shots he faced to record his second shutout of the season and the 10th of his career. For his career, Mason improved to 4-1-1 vs. the Kings with a 1.44 goals-against average and three white-washings.
Like last night, the Predators grabbed a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game, this time getting it courtesy of Darcy Hordichuk at 5:25. After a quick give-and-go in the neutral zone, Scott Nichol rushed down the right side and flipped a bad-angle wrist shot on goalie Jason LaBarbera. L.A.’s netminder redirected the puck directly onto Hordichuk’s stick, who had a virtually empty net to fire home his first goal in Nov. 23, 2006.
''That's obviously not my job, but it's nice to contribute,'' Hordichuk said. ''In practice, I've been working on just trying to be in the right spot at the right time and try to read what's going to happen. It didn't even feel I got a monkey off my back - more like a gorilla.''
Added Dumont: ''Darcy always gives 100 per cent and is always ready to go to war for the team. He had a big fight last night to try to change the momentum of the game. It didn't work out, but he gave his heart and soul last night. He totally deserved that goal tonight - and it was the game-winning goal, too.
Jerred Smithson sparked the play with the pass to Nichol, and collected his second assist and third point in the last four games.
The Predators struck again just 46 seconds later on another rebound goal to go up by two. Jason Arnott showed all the qualities of a power forward on the play to notch his 15th goal of the season, taking a pass from Dumont while cutting through the slot, throwing a shot on net, then following it to get his own rebound. The Predator captain beat two Kings defenders to the puck and popped it past a diving LaBarbera.
The third member of this red-hot line, Alexander Radulov, also assisted – his 10th point (5g-5a) in the last seven outings.
A franchise-record stretch of three goals in 1:15 was capped off at 6:40 on another quick Predator rush. This time, Martin Gelinas skated down the left side of the zone and saucered a pass to David Legwand, and he broke a seven-game goal draught with a snap shot past LaBarbera’s blocker from between the hash marks.
The previous record for fastest three goals by the Predators was held by Sebastien Bordeleau (7:53), Joel Bouchard (8:21) and Patrick Kjellberg (9:48) in the second period of a 6-4 win at the New York Islanders on Feb. 2, 2000.
The third goal was the last straw for LaBarbera, as he was relieved by Jean-Sebastien Aubin in the Los Angeles net.
David Legwand celebrates one of the three goals he collected points on in the 7-0 win at Los Angeles.
Nashville continued to pour on the scoring chances, outshooting the Kings 13-5 in the wild first 20 minutes – the third time in the last four games the Predators have collected three goals in the first frame. Prior to this stretch, they had only done it one other time, on Nov. 4 at Chicago.
Early in the second, the Predators picked up where they left off, scoring at the 3:50 mark. The play occurred when by a risky puck-playing maneuver by Aubin backfired, and Nichol took advantage. Aubin came out to the top of the face-off circles to play a loose puck, and with Hordichuk pressuring him, never got good wood on it. Nichol grabbed his errant pass a fired a shot from the slot past the unset netminder.
Nichol’s goal was his second of the season and first since Oct. 25 against Atlanta. Coupled with an earlier assist, he notched his first multi-point outing since Jan. 13, 2007 at Columbus.
The outburst of goals just kept coming at 9:22 of the second on another rebound goal that trickled over the L.A goal line while bodies flew everywhere around the net. With Legwand crashing the net and creating the initial havoc, Gelinas snapped a shot on goal, and in an absolute mess in the crease, Martin Erat was credited for pushing the puck in the net to collect his second point of the evening.
The two-point night marked the first time Gelinas has posted multiple points in a game since coming to the Predators, and he now has three points (1g-3a) in his last three outings.
Chris Mason was solid in his first start in five games, notching his 10th career shutout and third against the Kings.
At the other end of the rink, Mason quietly went about his business, making key stops when called upon while turning aside all 19 shots he faced through 40 minutes.
Comfortable with its five-goal lead, Nashville looked a bit sloppy early in the third period, as Los Angeles created the majority of the scoring chances. Mason bailed his skaters out though, continuing his outstanding night with answers for everything the Kings threw at him during the early-period barrage.
With the lull behind them, the Predators went on the power play at 10:08, and used it to help Dumont take sole possession of a franchise record at 11:20. At that time, Legwand fed a streaking Dumont, and he used quick hands flip a backhander home, giving him goals in six straight games to break a previous mark held by Steve Sullivan (2005), Greg Johnson (1999) and Sergei Krivokrasov (1998). Marek Zidlicky also collected his team-leading 15 power-play point on the play with an assist, giving him three points (1g-2a) in the past pair of games.
''I've just tried to keep things simple. I'm shooting the puck and staying around the net,'' Dumont said. ''Right now, I'm having fun out there shooting the puck and our line is playing well.''
In the six-game stretch, Dumont has eight points (6g-2a), and 14 points (9g-5a) in his last 12 games. Additionally, the Montreal, Que., native boasts three multi-point efforts in the past four games. Legwand’s three-pointsnight gives him 10 points (3g-7a) in his past nine games.
Jed Ortmeyer finished off the Predators drubbing of the Kings with his fourth goal of the season – and first career power-play marker – at 13:14. Arnott got the puck in the corner and fed Ortmeyer in the slot, and Nashville’s No. 41 one timed home the goal in his return to the lineup after being scratched for the past three games.
The two-point night gives Arnott 15 points (7g-8a) in his last 12 games.
Despite the discrepancy on the scoreboard, Nashville outshot Los Angeles by just a 29-28 margin. For the 15th time in the last 21 games, Nashville was perfect on the penalty kill while it went 1-for-3 on the power play and now has five man-advantage markers in its last 15 opportunities.
Alexander Radulov greets Jason Arnott at the L.A. net after Arnott scores a first-period goal, his 15th of the season.
The Predators now go three days without a game – their longest stretch since late November. Nashville returns to action with another set of games on back-to-back nights this weekend, playing in Columbus on Saturday night at 6 p.m. CT, and hosting the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT – the lone Sunday game that will be played in the Music City this season. Neither game will be televised locally, but all the action will be available at 104.5 The Zone, and tickets still remain to Sunday’s contest which is “Faith and Family Night,” with $10 discounts off lower bowl seats when you present your church bulletin at the box office.
Game Notes:Ryan Suter and Jordin Tootoo were scratches for Nashville, while Los Angeles sat Mike Cammalleri, Scott Thornton and Kevin Dallman… Nashville is now 3-1-0 in the month of January. It went 10-3-0 in the month last year, and has a winning record in the year’s first month six times in the franchise’s eight seasons… Preds have won three of their past four games against the Kings… Nashville is now 15-1-0 when leading after two periods, 18-3-1 when scoring the first goal, 5-6-0 vs. the Pacific Division and 9-12-1 on the road… Martin Erat has four points (2g-2a) in four games… In three games this season vs. Los Angeles Jason Arnott has six points (4g-2a), while J.P. Dumont boasts four points (1g-3a)… Dan Hamhuis once again led the Predators in ice time (22:36)… Jed Ortmeyer paced the team with four hits… Scott Nichol was a perfect 8-for-8 in the face-off circle and the Predators won 28-of-47 draws as a unit (60%)… L.A. and Nashville wrap up their 2007-08 season series on March 13 at the Sommet Center.
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Greg De Vries
Holding the stick