Kings: First-period success continues with Kopitar goal

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
8:30
PM PT
After the 1st period:

Kings 1, Nashville Predators 0

The good: The Kings continued their trend of strong starts, getting a goal from Anze Kopitar for an early lead. They’ve outscored their opponents, 7-0, in the opening period the last four games and 18-6 in the last 11, the most goals of any team in the NHL. Kopitar got on the ice just before his goal, taking the place of third-line center Jarret Stoll. His linemates, Trevor Lewis and Dustin Penner, remained on the ice while battling for the puck in the corner. Penner won the battle and passed to Kopitar in the right faceoff circle. He took a couple strides toward Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne and picked out the top right corner with a swift left-handed wrist shot. The goal was similar to the one he score the night before in Anaheim, when he hit the top left corner to give the Kings a 2-0 first-period lead. The Kings showed they meant business from the start, taking seven shots at the Nashville goal in the first two minutes. Five were off target and one was blocked. Their momentum slowed when Stoll went to the penalty box 2:14 into the game for a marginal roughing penalty, but they picked up where they left off after killing the power play. Slava Voynov and Jeff Carter forced Rinne to make two great saves before Kopitar came through with his third goal in three games. At the halfway point of the opening period, the Kings had out-shot the Predators, 8-2. They finished with a 10-5 advantage.

The bad: One of the teams that started the day between the Kings and the final playoff spot was Colorado, and the Avalanche already won today, beating the New York Rangers, the top team in the Eastern Conference, 3-1, to move one spot up to seventh. The Kings can still move into eighth with a victory and any form of a loss by San Jose tonight against visiting Detroit. Unfortunately, the Sharks have taken a 2-1 lead over the Red Wings after the first period.

The in between: Kings coach Darryl Sutter made the decision to go with back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier tonight, just his 12th start in 72 games this season. Jonathan Quick played Friday night in the 4-2 victory in Anaheim, but the back-to-back games likely had less to do with Sutter's decision to start Bernier and more to do with Bernier’s record against the Predators. Bernier is 5-1-0 lifetime against Nashville, owning a 2.00 goals-against average. He doesn’t own more than two career victories against any other NHL team. Quick, on the other hand, is 1-4-0 in his career against the Predators with a 3.17 GAA. His only victory came 11 days ago, when he allowed four goals in a 5-4 victory in Nashville. Bernier wasn't tested much in the opening period, but that's probably because the Kings spent so much time in the offensive end.

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