(Sports Network) - A recent surge on the road has the Kings in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. A home-heavy schedule the rest of the way could also play in the Predators' favor. Los Angeles looks to wrap a perfect four-game swing this evening and deny Nashville a fourth straight home victory at Bridgestone Arena.
Winning the first three games of their trip has put the Kings in position to win four straight for the first time since Dec. 21-27. They are also now tied with the Coyotes for fourth overall in the Western Conference with 83 points, but that is just three more than the ninth-place Predators in the tight standings.
Los Angeles, which is also three points back of first-place San Jose in the Pacific Division, is coming off a big 3-2 win at Dallas on Sunday. The Kings' Jonathan Quick yielded a game-tying goal with just 43 seconds left in regulation, but Michal Handzus prevented a three-point game by scoring the winner with 20.8 ticks left on the clock.
"That was huge. That gave us two points and every point counts." Handzus said about the game-winner, which gave LA its fourth straight road win and points in 13 of its last 14 as the guest (10-1-3).
Quick ended with 21 saves and Dustin Penner scored to give him a pair of goals and three assists in six games since coming over in a trade from Edmonton. Anze Kopitar had an assist and now has four goals and seven points in his last four games as well as eight tallies and 12 assists in his past 15.
Once Kopitar takes the ice tonight, he will set a Kings club record by skating in his 325th straight game. He will break Marcel Dionne's mark originally set from Jan. 7, 1978 through Jan. 9, 1982. "I don't know if that's something you want to look at too much, and jinx it," Kopitar told the Kings' website on Monday. "It's definitely a nice accomplishment. Hopefully it's not going to be done after [Tuesday]."
The Predators will aim to slow down Kopitar and pick up a fourth straight victory at home. They have bested the Wild and Avalanche in back-to-back games at Bridgestone Arena following a 2-5-2 stretch overall, kicking off a string of playing 12 of their final 15 in Nashville. Martin Erat and Joel Ward both had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 4-2 victory over Colorado, while Shea Weber and Matt Halischuk also scored. Pekka Rinne ended with 36 saves.
"They played well," Rinne said of the Avs effort. "We responded, though, and got the win." Los Angeles outscored Nashville, 10-2, in winning the first two meetings this year, getting three goals from Ryan Smyth in those games, but the Predators responded with a 5-2 win at Los Angeles in the most recent encounter on Jan. 6. Patric Hornqvist scored twice for the Preds.
The Predators have won eight of the past 11 in this series overall, but has dropped the last two at home. Rinne has faced the Kings just once this season, taking the loss on Nov. 6 to fall to 4-2-0 with a 2.89 goals-against average in his career.
Kings backup Jonathan Bernier has started all three games versus the Predators this year and will get the call again tonight. He is 3-1-0 with a 1.75 GAA in four career starts against Nashville.