NASHVILLE, Tenn. – While the Nashville Predators were desperately clinging to playoff hopes, the Los Angeles had nothing to lose in an already lost season.
As often happens down the final stretch of the NHL season, the Kings, who have the fewest points in the league, stunned the Predators with a 4-1 win Thursday night.
“This is the playoffs for the Kings,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “We have been in their situation. There is not a better feeling for a team that is out of the running for the playoffs but to be able to anger or really disrupt a team that is still trying to make it.
“We knew they were going to come and play their hardest. The Kings deserved to win this game.”
After both teams failed to score in the first period, J.P. Dumont found the net for the Predators at 8:50 of the second.
“Once you get the 1-0 lead, you have to hang onto that and focus on going up 2-0 or let the other team back in and lose momentum,” Trotz said. “We weren’t able to do that.”
Alexander Frolov tied the game for the Kings with 1:17 left in the second and that momentum carried over into the third period.
“Good things ended up happening for me,” Frolov said.
The Kings scored three goals in the final 20 minutes. Dustin Brown redirected a shot by Kevin Dallman to give the Kings a 2-1 lead at 5:02.
Frolov struck again at 10:23. Matt Ellis sealed the game with an empty-net goal that was also a short-handed tally with 1:53 left.
“We got a few breaks, but we earned them going to the net in the third period,” Los Angeles coach Marc Crawford said. “But I thought the big story for us was our goaltending and our penalty killing, which were extraordinary.”
Erik Ersberg stopped 37 shots during his sixth appearance of the season.
“I felt pretty good out there,” Ersberg said. “Obviously, I got lucky a couple of times. But if you are going to beat good teams you’ve got to have a little luck, too.”
The Predators outshot the Kings 38-30 but most of their shots were from the perimeter. The middle of the ice was seldom contested by the Predators on the Los Angeles end of the ice.
“My defence did a really good job,” said Ersberg. “I saw almost every puck out there. It helps a lot of get that kind of support.”
The Predators were 0-4 on the power play, and the Kings went 1-of-3.
“When you can keep a power play that’s as good as Nashville’s off the scoreboard with as many chances as they got you need good saves from your goaltender,” Crawford said. “But you also need the commitment of your guys to block shots, be in the lanes and battle in front of the net.”
Dan Ellis took the loss for the Predators who have lost four straight at home. One of the losses was a 3-2 overtime game with Vancouver.
“It doesn’t matter who you lose to,” Trotz said. “We are going to have to play a lot better with better efforts from everybody. We don’t want to lose any games right now.
“We want to win some games at home. We are usually pretty good here.”
Notes: The first NHL win for Dan Ellis was against Los Angeles in his only game for the Dallas Stars during the 2006-2007 season. The Kings had been held to two goals or fewer in their previous six games. The teams split the four-game season series.