The Predators were close to securing a comeback story of the year against the Los Angeles Kings tonight, but allowed three late goals that ultimately resulted in a 7-4 loss in their first away game of the season.
Up until the third period, the Preds couldn't seem to hold a candle to the Kings' offense. They were outshot 13-4 in the first period and 16-8 in the second. Things started out on the upside for the Preds; Mikael Granlund stealthily sniped L.A. goalie Jack Campbell's upper right corner to give Nashville a 1-0 lead early. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis notched the assists. The Kings promptly began to overwhelm a porous Predators defense after that. Michael Amadio tucked the tying goal past an overmatched Roman Josi and a screened Saros a few minutes later. After another couple minutes, L.A. captain Anze Kopitar caught a backhand pass from Dustin Brown and sent it into the back of the Preds' net for the 2-1 lead.
The second period did not prove to be much better for the Preds. Kyle Clifford added to the Kings' lead after tipping in a slapshot from Joakim Ryan about seven minutes into the period. The Preds simply could not establish any meaningful possessions to try and counter the Kings' tallies. With a little under two minutes left in the second frame, an unmanned Ilya Kovalchuk sent a one-timer into the net to make it 4-1.
The third period was almost a miracle for the Preds. Viktor Arvidsson, while falling on his rear, struck early on in the period. Arvidsson easily redirected a flubbed Ryan Johansen shot past Campbell to trim the deficit to 4-2. Calle Jarnkrok was credited with the secondary assist. Around the halfway point of the period on the power play, Matt Duchene nudged in a point shot from Josi to put the score at 4-3. Johansen notched the secondary assist on the goal. It seemed like the momentum had turned entirely in the Preds' favor when, about 40 seconds after Duchene's goal, Colton Sissons deflected a Ryan Ellis shot from the blue line past Campbell's reach. Ellis and Mattias Ekholm claimed the assists.
Within 30 seconds near the end of regulation, the Kings stormed back and utterly rained on the Preds' parade. Alex Iafallo collected a rebound from Brown past Saros at 19:01, Brown turned around and scored an empty-netter at 19:24, and Drew Doughty made it 7-4 at 19:31.
It was a little surreal to watch, but the loss made sense. The Preds' defense seemed like it got delayed at the Nashville airport. Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Josi all recorded -3 on-ice ratings for the game. However, the fact that the Preds came back from a 4-1 deficit is impressive, even if they were beat out in the end. As the first road game of the year, I don't think this wild game needs to be panicked over.
However, Juuse Saros has to be better. This was his second poor start of the year- and he's only had two starts. The Preds are now 3-2 for the year, and Saros was minding the net for both losses. He allowed four goals on 28 shots against the Red Wings on Oct. 5, and allowed six goals on 38 shots tonight against the Kings. He now stands at a bleak .844 save percentage for the 2019-2020 season. As the heir apparent to Pekka Rinne's legacy, Saros needs to be better tuned for his increasing workload.