LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The struggling Nashville Predators snapped a three-game losing streak when they upset the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings with a nerve-jangling 2-1 shootout victory on Thursday.
Despite being outshot 22-11 in regulation, the Predators kept coming up with crucial blocks to stay alive before left wing Sergei Kostitsyn scored the decisive goal in the eighth round of a tense shootout.
Nashville improved to 2-2-3 for the season while the Kings, bidding for a third straight win in front of a sellout crowd of 18,118 at the Staples Center, slipped to 2-2-2.
”I think that we would have been mentally scarred if we wouldn’t have won that one,“ Nashville head coach Barry Trotz told reporters. ”We were in four shootouts and we were 0-for-3.
“Obviously tonight we got a couple of goals which was good. We’re trying to get a little bit of an order in our game and I don’t think we hit stride at all. You have to find ways to get points.”
Kings head coach Darryl Sutter was frustrated after his team had been outblocked on the night 24-8.
”I’d like to score more than one goal,“ Sutter said. ”They (Nashville) are strong up the middle. They’ve got veterans in the back and they have a good goalie. They don’t give you much.
“It just comes down to we’re still not getting that goal from the players we need to count on to score that goal.”
The home fans had barely settled into their seats before Nashville struck early, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick being beaten by a blazing long-range snap shot from right wing Brandon Yip after just 58 seconds.
However, Los Angeles made it 1-1 on a powerplay 13 minutes into the first period when captain Dustin Brown, lurking close to the net, scored his first goal of the season with a wrist shot.
After a scoreless second period, both teams upped the tempo in the third with the Kings more dangerous on offense but the deadlock could not be broken.
It was still 1-1 after five minutes of overtime before Kostitsyn’s score through Quick’s legs sealed the win after centers David Legwand and Craig Smith and left wing Gabriel Bourque had also scored for the Predators in the shootout.
Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne, who had lost five of his previous six starts against the Kings, made 23 saves and stopped five of eight shootout attempts.
“This was my first win of the season,” a relieved Rinne said. “It’s been tough so far but hopefully it changes the course of how things go. I‘m just happy to be with the big win.”
Los Angeles scored just once on six powerplays and will need to regain some momentum as they embark on a five-game road trip starting on Saturday in Anaheim against the Ducks.
“We had some good offensive chances, probably not enough,” Brown said of his team’s display against Nashville. “We have to find a way to score goals. We got one from our power play. We had chances. We just got to get dirtier goals.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes; Editing by John O'Brien