THE STORY: It is crunch time for the Los Angeles Kings and they will bring that urgency to the Music City on Monday when they clash with the Nashville Predators. The Kings are ninth in the Western Conference, two points behind the Dallas Stars for the last playoff spot. This is the second of four meetings this season, with the Kings winning the first game 4-3 at home.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, FS West (Kings), FS Tennessee (Predators)
ABOUT THE KINGS (28-22-12): With trade rumors running rampant around Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown, he is certainly doing what he can to make the decision to keep him easier than to trade him. Brown scored a hat trick and added an assist Saturday to lift the Kings to a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. “I’ve been a King my whole career, and I expect to be a King beyond the next few days,” said Brown, who has four goals and two assists in his last three outings. “With all the rumors flying around, it’s my responsibility to prepare myself to be the best I can.” The four goal outburst was an oddity for the Kings, who are last in the NHL with an average of 2.08 goals per game.
ABOUT THE PREDATORS (36-19-7): Monday’s trade deadline could be interesting in Nashville. The Predators – with 79 points – appear secure in their chances of making the playoffs. Therefore Monday could be about adding depth for a deep playoff run. That might be all Nashville needs. The Predators, who are 3-0-1 in their last four games, are built from the net out with All-Star goaltender Pekka Rinne. He has made an NHL-high 56 starts and leads the league with 34 wins, and is a certainty to be nominated for the Vezina Trophy – and possibly the Hart.
1. Kings center Jarret Stoll tied a career-high with three assists Saturday.
2. Martin Erat has a goal and three assists in his last three games for Nashville.
3. Mike Fisher leads the Predators with 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 30 home games.
PREDICTION: Predators 3, Kings 2