Predators 2, Kings 1 (SO)
LOS ANGELES, CA – No overwhelming sense of relief permeated the Nashville Predators locker room. Perhaps the weariness of a monster road trip is draining these games into a blur.
But the sublimely succinct coach Barry Trotz nailed it after his team pulled out a 2-1 shootout victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
"I think we would have been mentally scarred if we wouldn't have won that," Trotz said.
Sergei Kostitsyn scored in the eighth round of the tiebreaker and the Predators prevailed in a game in which they had only 11 shots on goal in regulation. Kostitsyn wristed a shot past Jonathan Quick to give Pekka Rinne his first victory this season -- capping a tiebreaker that saw seven of 16 shooters score against two of last season's Vezina Trophy finalists.
Rinne withstood a final-minute barrage in regulation, and Quick held off some prime chances by Nashville in the last 90 seconds of overtime.
Rinne's exhausted face said it all after he walked into the locker room with his pads and skates on, his face still gleaming with sweat after his first shootout win in four tries this season. He is 1-2-3.
"It was a tough shootout," Rinne said. "It was long, but finally we got the win ... I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself. This is my first win of the season and obviously already we've played six games.
"We've been on the road for a week and a half now. It's been a long one .. you have to feel good about yourself after tonight's game, for sure. It was big points for us. It's been a tough go for us, and hopefully things turnaround for us here."
Ranked last in the NHL in shots per game, Nashville put one shot on goal in a span of more than 29 minutes from the first period to the second. The Predators did not record a shot in the final 16 minutes of the opening period and bookended the first and third periods with three shots each.
The 11 shots were the second-fewest allowed in regulation in Kings history. The Predators did limit L.A. to 22 shots in 65 minutes and blocked 24 more. But the pattern cannot be ignored for Nashville, which managed only 13 shots in a 4-0 loss at St. Louis a week earlier.
"It is troubling a little bit," Trotz said. "Hopefully we're sort of working our way down the ice -- getting in the defensive zone, the neutral zone. Hopefully things will come in the offensive zone. When we do get some good looks, we tend to pass up or get a block. We just got to get better there. It will come."
Dustin Brown tied it 1-1 on his first goal of the season at 13:08 during a 4-on-3 advantage. Drew Doughty ripped a shot high off the glass and the rebound fell in the slot to an untouched Brown. L.A. was previously 1 for 28 on the power play.
That would be all the offense Kings managed in 65 minutes despite an active game by Jeff Carter, who directed 12 shots at goal and put five on net.
It's a familiar theme for L.A., which could not give Quick enough goal support last season even after coach Darryl Sutter arrived and finished 29th in scoring.
"I'd like to score more than one goal," Sutter said. "You have to bear down on the opportunities. The ones you get, you don't get too many ... it just comes down details. They scored off a faceoff goal. Other than that they probably only had three or four opportunities to score. We probably had 10. We're still not getting that goal or the players that we need to count on to score the goal."
The mid-game lull by Nashville came after it grabbed a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds into the game. Brandon Yip roofed a wrist shot off a faceoff after David Legwand got the draw to Gabriel Bourque and made the pass to Yip at the top of the right circle.
Trotz paired Shea Weber with Scott Hannan for the first time this season but Hannan watched much of the early going from the penalty box after two tripping and interference calls, and Weber rejoined usual defense partner Roman Josi.
The Kings didn't fully seize the opportunity, though, and let the goal-challenged Predators hang around with a 1-1 score going into the third period. L.A.'s best chance in the second came on Justin Williams' redirection of Slava Voynov's shot that slid just left of the goal, while Nashville's Matt Halischuk had a shot at a wide-open net blocked by a sliding Jake Muzzin in the third.
"We weren't good at finishing and getting into the scoring areas more," Kings center Jarret Stoll said. "There was a lot of shots blocked and a lot of shots from the outside. We were okay at spurts. We just didn't generate enough -- didn't get in those hard areas and get enough traffic in front of Pekka. We just have to push through."