Nashville edges Kings, 3-2, on late goal
Patric Hornqvist's goal on a rebound at 16:29 of the third period lifted the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 win over the Kings in a Sunday matinee before a sellout crowd of more than 18,000 at the Staples Center.
Hornqvist's goal, his 26th of the season, came on a rebound after defenseman Dan Hamhuis threw the puck on goal from the blue line. Goalie Jonathan Quick, returning to the ice after missing the Kings' last game for the birth of his daughter, dropped to his knees to stop the shot but he couldn't control the rebound. Hornqvist also had trouble corralling the bouncing puck, but eventually gained control, reached around Quick and flipped it into the net for the game-winner.
The teams exchanged first-period goals, with Nashville going in front 4:42 into the game when Steve Sullivan fooled Quick with a wrister from a difficult angle along the right wing. Sullivan had nearly skated past by the goal line when he aimed a soft floater toward the goal that knuckled its way between Quick's blocker and his body and into the net.
Anze Kopitar got the equalizer four minutes later on a power play. After Drew Doughty and Ryan Smyth fought to keep the play alive along the boards, Michal Handzus collected the puck and slid it to Kopitar between the two face-off circles and Kopitar wristed it home for his 32nd goal of the season.
For Kopitar, the goal not only equaled a career high but it gave him at least one point in nine of his last 10 games.
After a scoreless second period, both teams scored moments apart in the third period, with Dustin Brown putting the Kings ahead momentarily at 5:56 before the Predators tied the game again on a controversial goal by Colin Wilson a minute later.
The play started with Jason Arnott skating in along the right-wing boards and leaving the puck for Martin Erat, who drove toward the goal, losing the puck as he collided with Quick along the right side of the crease. As Erat continued across the goal mouth, he pulled Quick along with him, allowing Wilson to control the puck and push it into the net. Quick argued immediately for goalie interference but referees Tim Peel and Dean Morton did not agree.
Minutes before Brown's goal, the Kings had a score by Justin Williams waved off when the officials ruled that Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne had been interfered with.
The Kings' last win over Nashville came six games ago on Oct. 25, 2008. Since then, Nashville has gone 5-0-1.
Kings Notes: Hall of Fame TV announcer Bob Miller, recovering from shingles, missed his fourth game. The Kings are hoping Miller will be back behind the microphone for the team's next game on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks ... Goalie Jonathan Bernier was reassigned to Manchester of the American Hockey League before Sunday's game. Bernier played brilliantly in his only appearance, getting the win in Friday's 2-1 shootout victory at Dallas.
-- Kevin Baxter
Photo: Kings center Anze Kopitar beats Nashville goalkeeper Prekka Rinne for a power-play goal in the first period Sunday. Credit: Victor Decolongon / Getty Images