The Los Angeles Kings are riding a season-best, five-game winning streak as they open a seven-game homestand against the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
The Kings took a one-game trip to Denver on Thursday night and knocked off the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 to improve to 2-0-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champions this season.
“We definitely feel like we can play with the best teams,” Los Angeles forward Adrian Kempe said after scoring two goals against the Avalanche. “If we can get all of the puzzle pieces together here, we’re going to have a good stretch.”
The victory against Colorado moved the Kings back into a points tie with the Golden Knights atop the Pacific Division, though Vegas has played one fewer game than Los Angeles.
Kempe scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season to pull within three of his career high set last season.
Anze Kopitar contributed three assists, giving the 35-year-old center 61 points, six off his total last season.
“We probably take him for granted,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of Kopitar. “We just keep calling his name and he goes out and does it.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about the goals he’s scoring and the offense that he’s putting up, but it has never come at the cost of what he really does well. He takes care of the group, the team, he does things right all the time.”
On the downside, the Kings watched their leading point scorer, Kevin Fiala (68 points), go down after a knee-to-knee hit by Colorado forward Andrew Cogliano.
Fiala went to the locker room for the rest of the second period came out for the third and assisted on a goal by Phillip Danault at 4:24, but then left the game for good.
“He tried coming back, a little bit sore, so we’ll see,” McLellan said.
Nashville will try to avoid losing three in a row when it takes the ice in the fifth game of its six-game trip.
The Predators lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday as they couldn’t solve Ivan Prosvetov, who made 39 saves for his first career NHL win.
“Those are the games we need,” said Nashville forward Cody Glass, who scored the lone goal against Arizona. “We need to win those games and we have to bear down and find a way to win.”
Luke Evangelista had an assist against the Coyotes, giving the 21-year-old four points in five games since he was recalled from Milwaukee of the AHL and made his NHL debut on Feb. 28.
That was the lone highlight for the Predators, who trailed by a goal to start the third period before giving up three in the final frame.
“Just remember this feeling and just take it to play a really good L.A. team,” Glass said. “We have to forget about this one but just kind of let it burn us as kind of our fuel and go on to the next game, competing hard, winning puck battles and playing a full 60 minutes because that’s how this league is.”
–Field Level Media