Final in Nashville: Kings 6, Predators 1, Ponikarovsky out of the chateau de bow-wow
Kings Coach Terry Murray was so unhappy with Alexei Ponikarovsky’s play Thursday that he demoted the winger to the fourth line and—worse—wouldn’t refer to him by name. In explaining why he put Kyle Clifford in Ponikarovsky’s old spot Murray spoke of him as “the other player on that left side.”
Ponikarovsky undoubtedly won back his name and his coach’s respect Saturday with an energetic performance in the Kings’ 6-1 rout of the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena.
Ponikarovsky, playing effectively with Trevor Lewis and Kevin Westgarth, was one of seven Kings to score two points in the game. Ryan Smyth led the way with two goals. The only forwards who didn’t join the romp were team scoring leader Anze Kopitar and Clifford, an unusual double, to be sure.
The Kings’ four-goal first period—the first time they’ve scored four in a period this season—provided plenty of support to goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Starting for the first time since Nov. 24 at Montreal, Bernier earned only his third victory this season and second over the unusually meek Predators. He also beat them once last season in Nashville, so the Kings might consider lobbying for the Predators to be moved to the Pacific Division so they could meet more often.
The Kings, 2-1 on this five-game trip, next play at Chicago on Sunday. Jonathan Quick is scheduled to be back in net at the United Center.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
Helene Elliott in Nashville