Quality, not quantity.
That was the theme for the Predators as they tallied 3 goals on 14 shots to defeat the L.A. Kings 3-0 at the Bridgestone Arena for their 4th straight win.
The Predators are 2-0 against the Kings this season.
Pekka Rinne was in net for the Predators, and looking at the shot totals for the Kings- they had 32 for the game and 20 in the second period- one might think that he was standing on his head for this Predator victory.
Make no mistake, Rinne made some good saves, but the Predators did a good job of keeping the Kings on the perimeter and Rinne was able to see the shots from the outside and rarely gave up a dangerous rebound.
By contrast, Jonathan Quick did not face many shots, but the ones he did have to contend with were mostly in the quality scoring areas and the Predators took advantage of working the puck in close.
Gabriel Bourque opened the scoring at 2:54 of the first period. He took a pass from David Legwand in the slot and quickly ripped a shot that beat Quick low glove side.
The first period saw both teams use their forecheck effectively and limit chances. It was good to see the commitment of the Predators to the forecheck and limit the scoring chances of the Kings. Throughout the game, the Predators refused to let the Kings get inside position around the crease and forced the Kings to take numerous shots from the outside that Rinne handled easily.
Shots were 8-7 for the Kings in the first period.
That would change dramatically in the second period, as the Kings dominated in offensive zone possession and threw pucks at the net from all angles. However, the Predators were keeping the Kings from getting the puck down low and in close on Rinne, so quality scoring chance for the Kings were few.
The Kings would pour 20 shots on net in the period, but could not get the puck past Rinne.
The Predators would only get 5 shots on net in the second, but they tallied on 2 of those shots.
Colin Wilson would give the Predators a 2-0 lead as he took a great pass from Kevin Klein at the side of the net and had a tap in past Quick at 7:01.
Wilson would tally again on the power play at 13:02. With Justin Williams in the box, Shea Weber would launch a bullet from the blue line that Quick kicked out onto the stick of Wilson, who was crashing the net. Wilson deposited the puck into an open goal past an out of position Quick just 5 seconds into the power play.
The third period was scoreless, and the Predators limited the Kings to just 4 shots on goal in the period. The Predators had 2.
Colin Wilson continues to elevate his game, and it is good to see Gabriel Bourque beginning to hit his stride. Wilson has been consistently creative and dynamic with the puck, and Bourque continues to impress with his effort and speed and nose for the net.
Pekka Rinne tracked the puck well and was in control of his game. His play gave the Predators confidence and as the game wore on, frustrated the Kings.
With this win the Predators are 5-2-3
The Predators are not the most talented team in the League, and they are certainly not the most offensively dangerous. But when this team is forechecking aggressively and creating chances, they can score goals. They have done that in the last two games, and the confidence this should create will serve the team well.
The task will be to continue this level of play.
Do this, and the wins will follow.
My three stars:
1. Pekka Rinne
2. Colin Wilson
3. Gabriel Bourque
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.