LOS ANGELES, Calif. – While the Nashville Predators are carving out an excellent groove for themselves on the road, the Los Angeles Kings are profoundly out of rhythm at home.
Patric Hornqvist scored two goals, Colin Wilson had a goal and two assists, and the Predators rallied for their fourth straight victory, 5-2 over the slumping Kings on Thursday night.
Sergei Kostitsyn also had a goal and two assists, and Marek Svatos scored his first goal for the Predators, who won back-to-back games in southern California while sending the Kings to their season-worst fifth straight loss.
A bold second-period rally made the win even more impressive for the Predators—and even worse for Los Angeles, which had beaten the Predators twice earlier this season.
Nashville turned a two-goal deficit into a 3-2 lead during a 5:31 span, connecting twice on the power play. Wilson had a hand in each score, netting the first goal during his first three-point game of the season.
“They embarrassed us the last two games, and they did it in the first 10 minutes of both games,” said Wilson, the promising 21-year-old son of NHL veteran Carey Wilson. “It definitely gives us confidence to make a rally like that. It puts us in a great mindset coming out of here with a win in the way we did it. It’s a big boost of confidence on the road.”
Hornqvist scored a goal for the fourth straight game in the second period before adding his team-leading 13th with 4:27 to play. Defencemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter each had two assists for the Predators, who catapulted up to fourth place in the packed Western Conference standings with wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles.
Anders Lindback made 24 saves, but gave up second-period goals to Kings rookie Kyle Clifford and Jarret Stoll before the Predators took control, starting with Wilson’s score on a cross-ice pass from Suter despite partially whiffing on the shot.
“After we scored that goal, I thought we were really good,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “We wanted to get off to a really good start. We didn’t like the way they beat us the last two times, and we were determined to get it back. We recovered really well and showed a lot of character.”
Nashville has firmly hit its stride after a five-game losing streak, winning with sturdy goaltending behind its usual solid defence. One night after Pekka Rinne stopped 40 shots in a gritty 4-1 win over the Ducks, Lindback won in his first start since Dec. 22.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 23 shots for the Kings, who hit another low point in their up-and-down season. After a promising start, Los Angeles is in its longest skid despite starting an eight-game homestand Dec. 30.
“We’re not working or competing hard enough, and it’s not easy to win games in this league consistently if you’re not doing that,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “They’re a good team, and when they have the lead, they’re a hard team to come back on. But we had a two-goal lead and somehow let it slip away. It was a battle to even get anything going after that.”
Los Angeles won 13 of its first 16 games at home this season, but dropped to 0-4 on its current homestand after failing to respond to Nashville’s second-period rally. Kings coach Terry Murray shuffled his lines in practice Wednesday, but the changes didn’t produce much more offence.
“This whole game really has nothing to do with Nashville. It has everything to do with us,” said Kings defenceman Drew Doughty, who has just two goals in 34 games. “We weren’t out there playing our best, we weren’t competing, and we weren’t working hard.”
After a scoreless first period, the 19-year-old Clifford controlled the rebound of Marco Sturm’s shot on a 2-on-1 break, scoring his third goal of the season. Stoll then connected during a power play, ending a 15-game goal drought with his first since Dec. 2.
After Svatos tied it in his fourth game since joining Nashville off waivers from St. Louis on Dec. 29, Hornqvist put the Predators ahead during another power play.
“We got some lucky goals that bounced our way, but we try to always have guys at the net,” Hornqvist said. “Tonight is one of those times when the puck always feels like it’s going to my stick. it’s just confidence. When guys have confidence out there, they make those tricky plays.”
NOTES: Nashville C Nick Spaling didn’t return after incurring an upper body injury in the first period. … Los Angeles RW Wayne Simmonds bloodied Francis Bouillon’s face during a brutally one-sided fight moments after Hornqvist’s goal. … Kings C Anze Kopitar earned his 200th and 201st career assists.