Los Angeles Hockey: Sergei Kostitsyn

Kings: Offense feasts on Predators in 5-4 win

March, 6, 2012
Kings/PredatorsAP Photo/Mark HumphreyJustin Williams of the Kings scores the second of his two first-period goals in Nashville on Wednesday.
Kings 5, Nashville Predators 4

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings continued to display their scoring touch with five goals at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, giving them 13 in the last three games and 18 in the five games since acquiring Jeff Carter in a trade last week.

THE STAT: Kings right wing Justin Williams scored twice in the opening period to help the Kings to a 2-1 lead. It was the first time since Feb. 7 that the Predators had allowed more than one goal in the opening frame.

TURNING POINT: Kings defenseman Matt Greene and forward Trevor Lewis scored in the first three minutes of the third period to give the Kings a 5-3 lead and chase Nashville starting goalie Pekka Rinne in favor of Anders Lindback. That was all the cushion they would need.

HOT: Kings right wing Dustin Brown had an assist on Lewis’s goal to stretch his point streak to five games. Brown has five goals and four assists during the streak.

NOT: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick earned his first career victory against the Predators but gave up four goals on 26 shots. The third goal by Nashville was particularly bad, as a shot by Sergei Kostitsyn knuckled under his right armpit to tie the score, 3-3. Quick allowed a similar soft goal between his pads in the 4-2 victory Saturday night against the Ducks.

GOOD MOVE: The Kings took a 3-2 lead in the second period on a heads-up play by rookie forward Jordan Nolan, who paused with the puck in the right circle before feeding it to Drew Doughty in the high slot and the defenseman did the rest, shooting it past Rinne at the 9:16 mark.

BAD MOVE: Nashville forward Jordan Tootoo got a 10-minute misconduct after he was bumped by a referee and then pushed the official in the back.

NOTABLE: The Kings moved into eighth place in the Western Conference for a couple of hours following the victory. They dropped back to ninth after the San Jose Sharks earned a point after losing in a shootout against Edmonton Oilers, but remain in a three-way points tie with the Sharks and Colorado Avalanche.

UP NEXT: Thursday at Columbus, 4 p.m. PT.

Kings: L.A. can't follow up in 2-1 loss to Preds

February, 27, 2012
Nashville Predators 2, Kings 1

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Unable to build on their momentum from Saturday night’s shutout victory against the visiting Blackhawks, the Kings managed a late goal Monday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, but ultimately came up winless for the ninth time in their last 12 games.

THE STAT: The Kings, the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, traded for high-scoring forward Jeff Carter on Thursday, then went out and scored four goals in their victory against the Blackhawks two days later. They continued their trend of failing to follow up with a similar offensive effort, however. In the 13 games in which they’ve scored four or more goals this season, they’re averaging 1.7 goals the following game.

TURNING POINT: The Nashville front office sent a message earlier in the day that it's serious about making a Stanley Cup championship run this season, making a couple key trade-deadline acquisitions that should help the Predators get into the playoffs and beyond. Nashville played as if it wanted to return the favor and grabbed a 1-0 first-period lead on a goal by Roman Josi, improving to 26-2-3 when scoring first this season.

HOT: The Kings cut the deficit to 2-1 on a goal by Dustin Brown with 3:24 remaining in the game. It was the fourth goal in two games for the team captain, who was the object of wide-spread trade rumors late last week. Unfortunately for the Kings, they were unable to get even down the stretch.

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Ducks: Predators wrap up series with 4-2 victory

April, 24, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 6

Nashville Predators 4, Ducks 2 (Nashville wins series, 4-2)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Predators continued to receive production from a variety of sources Sunday afternoon and the role players were the difference in the series-clinching victory at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

THE STAT: In their sixth trip to the postseason, the Predators won their first playoff series in franchise history.

TURNING POINT: With the score tied, 2-2, early in the third period, Jordin Tootoo drove straight at Ducks goalie Ray Emery, who made the save on the close-range shot, but teammate Andreas Lilja crashed into Emery leaving him unable to defend Nick Spaling’s follow up shot with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game.

HOT: In what could be the final game of his Hall of Fame career,Teemu Selanne scored the first goal of the game and postseason-leading sixth of the playoffs. Ducks forward Saku Koivu won the face off and Selanne recovered, taking the puck behind Nashville’s net. He came out the other side and beat goalie Pekka Rinne between his legs. Selanne, who will turn 41 in July, just missed a chance to tie the score with about 10 minutes remaining when his shot from the slot hit the skate of Nashville defenseman Shea Weber and went off the inside of the left post.

NOT: Ducks rookie defenseman Cam Fowler was on ice for the first two Nashville goals and finished with a team-high three giveaways. The Predators tied the score, 1-1, after knocking Fowler off the puck behind his own net. Tootoo recovered and centered a pass to Spaling who scored the first of his two goals. Spaling had just eight goals during the regular season while playing mostly a third-line role.

GOOD MOVE: The Ducks came into the game with a 35% success rate on the power play during the postseason, best among any team in the playoffs. They didn’t get their first man advantage until late in the second period, but capitalized when Jason Blake tipped in a slap shot from Bobby Ryan to tie the score, 2-2, with 1:37 left in the period.

BAD MOVE: The Ducks pulled Emery with about 90 seconds left in the game to get an extra attacker on the ice, but that move was nullified with Koivu committed a tripping penalty on Sergei Kostitsyn with 37.5 seconds remaining. The Predators then scored an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.

NOTABLE: Nashville forward J.P. Dumont, who was in the lineup because Martin Erat was still sidelined with an upper-body injury from Game 4, assisted on Steve Sullivan’s second-period goal, becoming the 18thdifferent Nashville player to get at least a point in series. Rinne even got on the score sheet, assisting on Spaling’s second goal to become the 19thplayer to earn a point in the series. Only defenseman Shane O’Brien failed to score at least a point for the Predators.

Ducks: Jason Blake's goal ties score, 1-1

April, 22, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinal

Game 5 (series tied, 2-2)

After the 2nd period:

Ducks 1, Nashville Predators 1

The good: The Ducks began pecking away at Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne in the second half of the period and finally got one by him on a power play with 6:21 left. Brandon McMillan, who set up the winning goal in Game 4, started things off by making a nice one-on-one move around Shane O’Brien and drawing a tripping penalty. The Ducks didn’t have much luck on the power play until Luca Sbisa sent a blast at Rinne from the point. Rinne made the stop but couldn’t control rebound and Ducks forward Jason Blake kept swatting away at it until it went through the legs of Rinne. Just as the puck was getting close to the goal line, Blake made one more stab through the legs of Rinne and pushed it by to tie the score, 1-1.

The bad: The Ducks spent a lot of energy killing back-to-back penalties early in the period. George Parros went to the box for high sticking and Nashville kept the puck in its offensive zone for the first 75 seconds. Patric Hornqvist missed a golden opportunity to give the Predators a 2-0 lead during the man advantage, missing the open side of the net on a perfect cross-pass from Sergei Kostitsyn. In between penalties, Corey Perry missed his own glorious scoring opportunity, but Rinne gloved his shot from the doorstep. With about 1:20 left in the period, he stopped a point-blank shot from Bobby Ryan, who took a pass from Perry from behind the net.

The in between: The Ducks had just eight shots on goal at the midway point of the period, compared to 16 for Nashville. But the Predators have just an 18-17 advantage heading into the third.

Ducks: Emotions high heading into Game 5

April, 22, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 5

Ducks (2-2) vs. Nashville Predators (2-2) at Honda Center, 7 p.m. PT

Five storylines to track:

1. Getting hot in here: This series has officially reached its boiling point. Martin Erat, one of Nashville’s best players, was injured as a result of a late hit in Game 4 by career agitator Jarkko Ruutu, and both will miss tonight’s game. That’s a bad trade off for the Predators in the first place, but the Ducks also get Bobby Ryan back from a two-game suspension following his now-famous stomp on the foot of Nashville rookie Jonathon Blum in Game 2. The finger-pointing from both sides began last weekend but reached new heights Thursday.

2. Ryan’s return: Ryan showed some definite line-dancing potential with his foot stomp in Game 2, but that’s not why the Ducks pay him. He scored 34 goals during the regular season, twice as many as Erat, and two more in Game 2. While the Ducks missed his contributions the last two games, they did manage to earn a split in Nashville and regain home-ice advantage. Ryan should also have some extra jump in his step from the added down time, which just made him simmer. “I’ll certainly have a little fire lit under me,” he said.

3. And then there’s Teemu: With all the barbs flying between camps, the remarkable run of Teemu Selanne has become a bit of a sideshow. But the speedy right wing, who is a lot closer to age 41 than 40, has a career-high five playoff goals in just four games, which also leads the NHL this postseason. Selanne is taking every inch that Nashville gives, scoring four of his goals on the power play. With one less defender on the ice, Selanne is taking advantage of his ability to find holes near the Predators net and get off swift, pin-point accurate shots on Nashville goalkeeper Pekka Rinne.

4. Rinne’s gone downhill: Rinne began the playoffs looking like the Rock of Gibraltar but has been more of a rolling stone the last three games, allowing 13 goals in that span. After finishing second in the league in save percentage during the regular season (.930) and third in goals-against average (2.12), Rinne’s numbers have surged to .860 and 3.74 in the playoffs. Rinne got word Friday that he is one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, which goes to the league’s top goaltender…in the regular season.

5. Nashville needs a surge: Heading into the series, the Ducks had a tough time against Nashville forward Sergei Kostitsyn, allowing three goals and an assist in the last two regular-season games. They’ve done a better job of keeping him out of the net in this series, though he has totaled four assists. With Erat out of action, the Predators will need Kostitsyn to step up his production and look more like the player who scored a team-high 23 goals during the regular season. Kostitsyn signed a one-year deal for a bargain-basement price of $550,000 in the offseason, so it would benefit him to pick up the pace as well.

Ducks: Jonas Hiller doesn't last long in his return

March, 24, 2011
Nashville Predators 5, Ducks 4

Eight keys to game:

THE FACTS: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller didn’t make it through the opening 12 minutes in his first game back after missing 19 of the last 20 because of vertigo-like symptoms. Hiller gave up three goals in nine shots against the Predators, and the Ducks couldn’t make up the difference in the loss at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

THE STAT: The Ducks could have jumped three spots in the Western Conference standings with a victory and a loss by the Kings against San Jose later tonight. Instead they’ll remain in eighth, one point ahead of ninth-place Dallas. Nashville, meanwhile, leapfrogged the Kings and Chicago with its fifth consecutive victory and now sits in fifth place.

TURNING POINT: Hiller made four saves in the first two minutes but was bitten on the fifth shot on goal by the Predators, a wrist shot from five feet by Sergei Kostitsyn at the 2:04 mark. About nine minutes later, the Predators scored two goals 19 seconds apart. Hiller was done for the night and the Ducks were in big-time catch-up mode.

HOT: Take your pick between Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne. Perry scored two more goals to give him 42 on the season and move to within one of Steven Stamkos of Tampa Bay for the league lead. Perry also had an assist to give him 13 points in the last eight games. Selanne scored the other two goals, giving him four in the last three games. Unfortunately, the Ducks drew within a goal with just 27 seconds left, not enough time for Selanne to score the tying goal late in regulation for the third consecutive game.

NOT: Anaheim rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa was a season-high minus-four for the game with a team-high three giveaways.

GOOD MOVE: To get an extra attacker on the ice, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle pulled Dan Ellis from goal with just under three minutes remaining and the Ducks trailing by two. He got the goal he wanted, just too little too late.

BAD MOVE: What was Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter thinking as he kicked the puck out of the air in the final minute? He ended up booting it over the shoulder of his goalie, Pekka Rinne, cutting the deficit to one. If Rinne doesn’t win the Vezina Trophy for top goalkeeper honors this season, Suter won’t be getting a Christmas card. You have to also question whether Hiller was ready for this game.

NOTABLE: Both of Selanne’s goals came on the power play, giving the Ducks five extra-man goals in the last three games and Selanne has three of them.

UP NEXT: Saturday at Chicago, 5:30 p.m. PT