Nashville center Matt Cullen drops to the ice as he tries to keep the puck… (Gus Ruelas / Associated…)
Thirteen games went by in relatively uneventful fashion and the Kings managed to stay fairly free of injury, a refreshing trend from past seasons.
Games 14 and 15 were their undoing.
In consecutive games, they lost two of their top four centers — Jeff Carter and, on Saturday night, Jarret Stoll. Nashville beat the Kings, 4-3, their first loss in their last four games at Staples Center.
The game-winner came after a long stretch in which the Kings had been dominating the run of play. Nashville center David Legwand scored his second goal of the game, making it 4-3 with 3 minutes 56 seconds to play.
He won the faceoff from Kings center Mike Richards and would go on to score on a rebound from the base of the left circle.
“We had the momentum going,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “It's tough to swallow that one.”
There had been no standard script for the Kings during their home winning streak. But on Saturday they were unusually flat.
They fell behind by two goals after two periods, then finally applied the pressure in the third, tying it on goals from Dustin Brown and Richards.
Brown scored for the first time since Oct. 9. He threw the puck at the net from a sharp angle, and it deflected off a Nashville player and past goalie Carter Hutton.
Richards scored the equalizer from in front on the power play at 11:18 of the third period.
Nashville took control earlier by scoring twice on the power play and had three goals in 10 shots against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. Nashville right wing Patric Hornqvist assisted on three of the Predators' four goals.
Kopitar, who had the game-winner in overtime Wednesday against San Jose, scored the first Kings goal, converting a rebound of defenseman Jake Muzzin's shot at 19:23 of the first.
That cut Nashville's lead to 2-1 but the Predators reestablished a two-goal lead at 8:41 of the second period, a sequence compounded when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty's clearing pass struck the referee's leg.
The bigger picture is a concern. Stoll played a mere two shifts in the second period, left the game and did not return. The team said only that the injury was being evaluated and did not divulge its specific nature.
Carter, who suffered a lower-body injury against the Sharks, was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 30, and defenseman Keaton Ellerby was claimed by the Winnipeg Jets on waivers Saturday.
Youngsters Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey were called up from the Kings' American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H. Toffoli played Saturday and assisted on Richards' goal.