Predators look to continue playoff push vs. Kings

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By Anthonry Giornalista

STATS Senior Writer

Nashville (34-30-5) at Los Angeles (29-29-10) 10:30 pm EDT

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Nashville Predators haven't been

able to win on the road in recent weeks unless they've shut out

their opponent. No team has been blanked at home more than the

one they will visit Monday night.

Struggling on offense with Jason Arnott hurt, the Predators look

to hold the Los Angeles Kings in check in a matchup of Western

Conference playoff hopefuls.

Arnott, who leads Nashville (34-30-5) with 27 goals, has missed

two straight games with an upper body injury and his status for

this contest is uncertain. However, the Predators have not had

great success on offense even with the veteran center in the

lineup.

Nashville is among the lowest-scoring teams in the league with

2.48 goals per game, 2.21 on the road. The Predators have scored

two goals or fewer in 16 of their last 17 road games, going

6-10-1.

That has made the need for strong goaltending and tough defense

even more important away from the Sommet Center. In fact, each

of Nashville's three wins over its last six road games have been

by virtue of shutouts.

The Predators won at Phoenix 2-0 on Saturday night to snap a

three-game losing streak. They are among a group of seven teams

within six points of each other for the West's final two playoff

spots, a logjam in which Los Angeles (29-29-10) is at the

bottom.

Nashville was able to earn crucial points by handing the Coyotes

their ninth shutout of the season, putting them in a tie with

the Kings for most in the league.

Los Angeles has been shut out an NHL-high six times at home. The

Kings are returning to Staples Center after scoring a total of

three goals in two straight road losses.

Los Angeles has faced goaltender Dan Ellis in its two games

versus Nashville this season, scoring five goals en route to

losing both contests. The Kings, though, may have to contend

with Pekka Rinne for the first time.

Rinne, who made one start in two years for Nashville prior to

this season, made 18 saves against the Coyotes for his seventh

shutout of the season. He is 12-3-1 since Feb. 1 and has three

shutouts during that span, including the Predators' last two on

the road.

"We all knew Pekka was a solid goaltender but what he's done

this year has been pretty amazing," Nashville winger J.P. Dumont

said. "We have two good goaltenders and we know every time they

make a big save we have to score big goals for them."

Dumont, who leads the Predators with 53 points (14 goals, 39

assists), has goals in consecutive games after being held

without a point in his previous three. He has seven goals and

seven assists in his last nine games against the Kings.

Dumont scored in both meetings this season, including a 3-1

victory at Los Angeles on Nov. 15 in the most recent matchup.

Erik Ersberg stopped 19 of 21 shots before being pulled in the

final seconds. He is 1-2-0 with a 1.81 goals-against average in

three games versus Nashville.

The Kings got a solid effort from Ersberg against Pacific

Division-leading San Jose on Saturday night but lost 2-1 in a

shootout.

"We hung in there," said Ersberg, who made 38 saves before

stopping five of seven shots he faced in the shootout. "If we

play like this over the last 14, we can make things

interesting."

Los Angeles leading scorer Anze Kopitar was held off the

scoresheet, but he has a five-game point streak at home (four

goals, six assists).

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