Final at Staples Center: Kings 4, Nashville 1
Left wing Ryan Smyth played his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier played his 11th. But the veteran and the rookie bridged their age and experience gap with noteworthy performances that were the foundation of the Kings’ 4-1 victory over the surprisingly passive Nashville Predators at Staples Center.
Smyth scored a goal amid salutes from fans and teammates, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown each had a goal and an assist and Justin Williams contributed two assists as the Kings (10-3-0) extended their winning streak to a season-best four games. They also improved to 6-0-0 at home and ended a five-game home losing streak against the Predators, who weren’t as pesky or persistent as they usually are.
Bernier stopped 25 shots and gave up only Shane O'Brien's long slap shot with 2:24 left in the third period. The last time he faced the Predators he shut them out, last March 30 at Nashville.
The Kings lost defenseman Willie Mitchell to what they’re calling an upper-body injury but is believed to be an arm injury, likely incurred while blocking a shot. Mitchell, who has become a valuable shutdown defenseman and fine partner to Drew Doughty, played only two shifts in the second period and did not return.
Jarret Stoll also scored for the Kings, who don’t play again until they face Dallas on Thursday at Staples Center.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
Photo: Kings winger Ryan Smyth celebrates after scoring in the second period against Nashville on Saturday night at Staples Center. Credit: Victor Decolongon / Getty Images