Austin Watson’s 2 goals key Predators’ 4-3 win over LA Kings
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Austin Watson committed a penalty that allowed the Nashville Predators’ last game to slip away from them.
The grinding forward made up for it two nights later with a rare scoring outburst to beat the Los Angeles Kings.
Watson scored two goals, P.K. Subban added two assists and the Predators sent the Kings to their first regulation loss at home since mid-November, 4-3 Saturday night.
Roman Josi and Scott Hartnell scored early goals and Pekka Rinne made 26 saves for the Predators, who wrapped up a three-game West Coast road trip with their first win.
Watson beat Jonathan Quick late in the second period for his first goal since Nov. 28, and he followed it up with the eventual game-winner early in the third. Redemption was sweet for Watson, who is still stinging after taking the interference penalty that allowed lowly Arizona to score the tying goal in the Coyotes’ overtime win on Thursday.
“I think we all know the way the Arizona game ended wasn’t particularly good for me, and something that I wasn’t very happy with,” Watson said. “To come out here and be a factor in getting this win here tonight, and helping our team bounce back and get the two points that we needed, it was important for me to do. It was a great game all around for us.”
Watson recorded his first multi-goal game since last May in the Western Conference finals clincher against Anaheim. Watson has already matched his career high for a season with five goals in 39 games — the same number that he scored in 77 games last season.
Nashville scored four goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 19. The defending Western Conference champions played their third straight game without leading scorer Filip Forsberg, who could be out for six weeks with an upper-body injury.
Most of the Predators spent the afternoon watching the Tennessee Titans’ playoff victory over Kansas City, and they translated that excitement into a solid effort against another playoff contender.
“They’re not going to go away,” Predators coach Peter Laviolette said of the Kings. “They’re a good hockey team. There’s a reason why they sit where they sit in the standings, and we knew that. I thought the guys competed really hard in the last eight to 10 minutes of the game.”
Adrian Kempe, Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli scored for the Kings, who lost their second straight. Los Angeles is 5-5-2 over the last month, falling out of first place in the Pacific Division.
“I think they’re as good a team as there is in the Western Conference, and that was a good measuring stick for us,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “I felt like we had some self-inflicted wounds and some penalty trouble early. It seemed like every time we climbed back in, we got a little bit further behind. Our team game was pretty solid. I just felt like we needed everybody tonight, and we didn’t quite have everybody. But they’re a good team, and we have some work to do.”
Toffoli got his team-leading 18th goal of the season, and Quick stopped 16 shots. It wasn’t enough to avoid a disappointing finale before the Kings’ bye week.
Los Angeles hadn’t lost in regulation at home since Nov. 22 against Winnipeg, the day before Thanksgiving. The Kings produced a strong third period and repeatedly threatened Rinne, but failed to score after Toffoli’s power-play goal with 11:36 to play.
“I think we were competitive tonight, but we just had a couple of mental mistakes,” Lewis said. “The break is good, I think. Get rested and reloaded and ready to go for the home stretch here.”
NOTES: Captain Anze Kopitar had his team-leading 27th assist for the Kings. ... Subban produced his latest strong game while playing more than 26 minutes. He has 13 points in the Predators’ last 12 games. One night earlier, Subban attended the Los Angeles Lakers’ game against Charlotte at Staples Center as a guest of Lakers owner Jeanie Buss. ... Before the game, Los Angeles activated D Christian Folin from injured reserve and put D Jake Muzzin on injured reserve retroactive to Jan. 4. Folin played for the first time since Dec. 18. ... Nashville’s Ryan Johansen won nine of his 12 faceoffs.
Predators: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
Kings: A week off before hosting a Freeway Faceoff with the Anaheim Ducks next Saturday night.
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