Predators Beat Kings – Keep Pace in Central Race

LOS ANGELES — Colton Sissons had a goal and an assist, Pekka Rinne made 25 saves and the Nashville Predators kept pace in the Central Division race with a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.

Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith also scored for the Predators, who snapped a two-game skid with a comfortable win over the last-place Kings.

Nashville Predators Viktor Arvidsson Ryan Johansen
Nashville Predators Viktor Arvidsson celebrates with Ryan Johansen (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

Led by Sissons’ first multipoint game since Jan. 7, Nashville remained one point behind Central-leading Winnipeg. The defending division champion Predators also increased their lead over third-place St. Louis and Dallas to six points, although the Jets, Blues and Stars all have two games in hand on Nashville.

Nashville has taken points at Staples Center in nine consecutive visits.

Austin Wagner scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 31 shots for the Kings, who opened a five-game homestand by losing for the 14th time in 16 games.

Los Angeles had three days off following a victory at Anaheim, but failed in its attempt to win back-to-back games for the first time since Feb. 5-7. The Kings are guaranteed to finish with their worst point total in a full season since the 2008-09 campaign.

Arvidsson put the Predators ahead late in the first period with his 29th goal moments after a stunning save on the other end by Rinne, who has a long history of jaw-dropping play against Southern California’s NHL teams.

Wagner tied it early in the second with the 10th goal of his rookie season during his first game back from a four-game injury absence. Rookie defenceman Matt Roy picked up his first NHL point on the play.

Smith put the Predators back ahead late in the second when he batted Quick’s generous rebound of Sissons’ shot out of midair for his 19th goal. Sissons then scored an unassisted goal after intercepting Alec Martinez’s pass and beating Quick with a stoppable shot.

Quick has played some of his worst hockey when he faces the Predators, posting the worst save percentage and goals-against average of the Conn Smythe Trophy winner’s long career against any opponent.

Sissons had scored just one point in his last 16 games before scoring two points in a 2:27 span.

NOTES: Kyle Turris was an apparently healthy scratch for Nashville. The veteran had played in 16 consecutive games since returning from injury, but has only one goal and three assists in that stretch. LW Cody McLeod also was scratched. … Kings LW Jonny Brodzinski was scratched with Wagner’s return to the lineup. D Kurtis MacDermid also was scratched in favour of D Sean Walker. … Nashville avoided its first three-game losing streak since Feb. 9-12. … Nashville won its 40th game for the fifth consecutive season.


Predators: At the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.

Kings: Host the Florida Panthers on Saturday.


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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press