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“Desperate” Kings take advantage of lackluster Predators…

With a victory tonight, Pekka Rinne would break Tomas Vokoun‘s franchise record for wins in a single season.

Not only did he not topple the record but he didn’t even finish the game.

The Los Angeles Kings brought their A-game into Bridgestone Arena and barely beat a Nashville Predators squad, 5-4, that only brought their C-game.

Rinne made just 19 saves on 24 shots in the loss. His night was full of unfortunate bounces, smart plays by attacking players and, quite frankly, nobody playing well in front of him.

“We are a team that prides itself on defense and we played none of it tonight,” Preds captain Shea Weber said after the game.

Fellow defenseman Hal Gill agreed.

“That wasn’t the effort we need to have,” he said. “They’re a team that’s desperate and drove to the net to make things happen. We’ve got to be more desperate in those situations.”

The Vezina Trophy finalist was pulled in favor of back-up Anders Lindback with 17:00 left in regulation.

“It just wasn’t Peks’ night,” Trotz said. “Four is my limit with Peks, usually. But there was still lots of game to go so I gave him one more.”

There seemed to be something in the air regarding Rinne’s night early on. With Justin Williams forechecking, Rinne came out to play the puck but got caught out of his net. The Kings forward corralled it below the far face-off circle and just put the puck toward the scrambling netminder. The puck banked off of Rinne’s pads for the opening score.

Nashville would even the scoreboard when Andrei Kostitsyn carried into the Kings zone and partially fan on the shot. Patric Hornqvist, trailing the play, picked up the loose puck and wristed a shot over Jonathan Quick‘s glove for his 19th of the season.

The euphoria for the 17,113 in attendance would be short lived, however. Just 0:12 later, the Kings would retake the lead on yet another Williams tally. This one coming off of his own rebound. Rinne did an old school pad stack on the initial shot but Williams was able to knock the puck out of the air to give the Kings the lead.

“They hadn’t even finished announcing our goal and then they scored,” Trotz recalled. “To me, that’s just unacceptable.”

Midway through the middle frame, the Preds would knot the game at 2-2. Martin Erat gathered the blue line and fired a wrist shot past Quick.

The Kings would hold serve, however. Drew Doughty gave the visitors the lead for a third time but, per usual in this tilt, the Predators evened the score yet again on a Sergei Kostitsyn just moments later.

The Kings would score twice to open the final stanza and Rinne’s night would end early.

Hornqvist would make things interesting later in regulation but it was too little too late as the Kings would overtake the 8th place spot in the Western Conference standings with the win.

“We have to play more consistent,” Hornqvist said. “We have to play a 60-minute game. We turned the puck over way too many times tonight.”

Is there a silver lining in the fact that the Preds didn’t bring their best game yet were in it until the end? That’s not good enough for Trotz.

“When you lose a game, I can’t really find a silver lining,” Trotz said. “Things are not going to go your way if you’re not fully committed and we had some guys that weren’t fully committed and ready to go.”

The Predators will try and rebound against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night. The Avs whooped up on the struggling Minnesota Wild tonight, 7-1.

Puck drops at 7:00pm Central.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jeremy K. Gover //