NASHVILLE -- Here is your utterly misleading statistic of the night: Kings 32, Predators 14.
Shots on goal meant almost nothing, which is exactly what the Kings managed to do against Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season: nothing. Rinne recorded his first shutout of the season and the 26th of his career as the Predators beat the Kings, 3-0, on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena.
The Kings have won once in their last four games and got off to another sluggish start, giving up a goal in the first three minutes as Gabriel Bourque scored at 2:54, beating goalie Jonathan Quick with a one-timer from the edge of the circle. Colin Wilson scored twice, and star defenseman Shea Weber got his first point of the season, assisting on Wilson's second goal, on the power play at 13:02 in the second period.
That made it 3-0, and the Predators, already expert at clogging the middle, resorted to lockdown mode, something they have turned into a fine art.
Additionally, there was the Predators' continuing dominance in the faceoff circle, the far more meaningful statistic of the night. Center Paul Gaustad went 15 of 22 (68%), and Mike Fisher won his faceoff against the Kings' Jarret Stoll, leading to Wilson's power-play goal, a rebound off Weber's shot.
“When they score goals on you, then you dwell on it, right?” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “Tonight is two faceoff goals. Kopi [Anze Kopitar] is usually so good on his backhand there. The first goal there he loses the draw, and Rob [Scuderi] and Drew [Doughty] both don't have coverage.
“…What's it attributed to? You've got to ask them. You don't coach faceoffs. Those guys are veteran guys that know who they're playing against. Every time we play Nashville, it's a huge stat always.… Obviously they do a better job at it when we play them than we do.”
Said Kings forward Justin Williams: “They're a tough team to chase when you're behind…. Hey, sometimes you can say you didn't get the breaks. I don't think that was the case tonight. We didn't deserve it.”
Kings defenseman Doughty and his partner Scuderi were a combined minus-four. Doughty is a minus-eight on the season and Sutter was asked if Doughty was pressing.
“I just don't think he's good early enough in games,” Sutter said. “No, that's not pressing. Expect a lot out of him, right? Him and his partner are out on the ice for too many goals against.”
The panic button has not been activated, not quite.
“There's ups and downs of the season,” Williams said. “We're going through a down now. We'll get it together. I'm confident we will. We always have. And we're going to find a way — we always do.
“I remember talking after games, sitting after losing a few in a row and bouncing back.”
The scratches were familiar. Kings left wing Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch for the sixth time, and forward Brad Richardson was also out, as was defenseman Andrew Campbell.