LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sergei Kostitsyn scored in the eighth shootout round, and the Nashville Predators snapped their three-game skid with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Pekka Rinne made 23 saves and stopped five of Los Angeles’ eight shootout attempts as the Predators survived a weak offensive performance thanks to their Finnish goalie’s sturdiness and a timely shot by Kostitsyn, who finally ended the lengthy shootout.
Captain Dustin Brown scored his first goal of the season for the Stanley Cup champions, who are off to a 2-2-2 start.
Jonathan Quick stopped 13 shots for the Kings, whose NHL-worst power play went 1 for 6 while Nashville and Los Angeles slogged through a largely dull game between two of the NHL’s lowest-scoring teams.
Brandon Yip scored in the opening minute of the Predators’ fifth stop on a seven-game trip, but Nashville managed just one shot in a 29:20 stretch shortly afterward — perhaps no surprise for the team that’s last in the NHL with 23.2 shots per game.
David Legwand and Craig Smith scored on the Predators’ first two shootout attempts, but after Mike Richards and Brown beat Rinne with change-of-pace goals, and Martin Erat missed his chance to end it for Nashville.
Three of the next four rounds were scoreless. After Simon Gagne missed to open the eighth round, Kostitsyn beat Quick for Nashville’s third win in its last 10 meetings with Los Angeles.
Nashville hasn’t figured out how to compensate for the absence of top goal-scorer Patric Hornqvist, who sprained his knee last weekend in Anaheim. Nobody has more than Erat’s four points in the Preds’ first seven games, and high-priced defenseman Shea Weber is among the players who haven’t scored at all yet.
Yip scored his second goal of the season 58 seconds after the opening faceoff on a fairly innocuous shot from the top of the circle, while the Kings didn’t get their first shot for more than five minutes.
Brown tied it during 4-on-3 play later in the period, sweeping home a fortunate rebound of Drew Doughty’s wild shot off the glass behind Rinne’s net. While Brown had only one assist to show for the Kings’ first five games, Doughty hadn’t even scored a point since his outstanding postseason run for Los Angeles last summer.
The goal was just Los Angeles’ second power-play score of the season. The NHL’s worst power-play unit began the game in a 1-for-27 slump, and failed to score on its first chance against Nashville.
The Predators played the final 16:19 of the first period without recording a shot, and Legwand recorded their only shot in the first 13:01 of the second period. Nashville dumped and chased with little success, and its power play was thoroughly ineffectual against the Kings, whose own power play has struggled mightily all season.
Los Angeles failed to score on the only power play in a tentative third period, but had a few good chances in the waning minutes of regulation.
Nashville awoke in overtime, getting most of the good scoring chances, but Nick Spaling appeared to miss an open net on the best opportunity.
NOTES: The clubs meet again in Nashville on Feb. 7 when the Predators finally return from their road trip — and then must make a one-game trip to Minnesota. … The Kings sold out Staples Center for their 29th consecutive regular-season game. … Los Angeles F Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch for the fourth straight game. … Southern California native Jonathon Blum was scratched again by Nashville.