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Bad Calls and Lethargy Litter Kings Loss to Predators

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Daylight savings time, afternoon matinee and bad calls on both ends by referee Dean Morton doomed the Kings in their 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators before 18,118 at Staples Center, the Kings’ 17th sellout of the season.

The Kings came out of the gates sleepwalking (sleep-skating?) through the opening minutes of the game. In fact the Predators had a 5-0 shot advantage after the first four minutes of the game. Their persistence paid off when Steve Sullivan scored the first goal of the game when his shot deflected off the top of Quick’s stick and into the net 4:42 into the game.

“That’s a play that he has to have,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said about Quick allowing the goal. “He just wasn’t squared to the puck.”

Nashville’s goal seemed to awaken the Kings from their extended slumber, and they suddenly became more aggressive. The Kings were awarded by getting a power play opportunity when Kevin Klein was called for a hooking penalty deep in the Nashville zone 8:12 in the period.

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Anze Kopitar scored a goal 44 seconds later on an assist by Michal Handzus to notch his 32nd goal tying his career high for goals set in the 2007-08 season and giving him points in nine of his last 10 games.

They extended their smart play when they went on a penalty kill 13:35 in the first period. They were active blocking the passing lanes for the Predators and allowed only one shot on goal during the penalty while blocking a shot and getting two good hits on the Preds.

Tempers flared up early in an otherwise quiet second period when after 1:24 the Kings Richard Klune and Predators Jordin Tootoo dropped their gloves and exchanged haymakers giving them both five minute major fighting penalties. The tumultuousness gave way to both teams battling for puck control in an attempt to get something going on offense though neither team in the end did much of anything.

Also quiet were the whistles. Aside the fighting penalties in the second period and each team getting a power play opportunity in the first period, the referees and linesmen kept their whistles in their pockets.

The third period brought upon a Kings surge and they appeared to have scored a go-ahead goal 3:51 in the third period, but referee Dean Morton waved the goal off on what he said was goaltender interference on Ryan Smyth despite the fact Smyth never touched Predator’s goalie Pekka Rinne. Also puzzling was the fact that despite the interference call no penalty was assessed.

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The Kings however regrouped with the captain Dustin Brown scoring his 17th goal of the season on an assist by Drew Doughty at 5:56 in the period for the go-ahead goal.

The Kings enjoyed that 2-1 lead for all of 39 seconds when Colin Wilson scored the tying goal for the Predators that was not waved off for goaltenders interference. Curiously the referee on that blown call was also Dean Morton. Quick bashed his stick against the ice in disgust.

“I don’t know how that’s a goal,” Quick said after the game clearly frustrated. “I don’t understand it one bit, and I did not get an explanation at all. The referees did not say anything - no explanation at all.”

“It’s a discretion call,” Murray said diplomatically about the blown call on the Nashville goal. “I asked for an explanation and he said he didn’t see the player going through the crease. The puck was lying there - that’s all he saw.

“I don’t know at the other end when we get the call on the goal disallowed why it’s not a goal. I don’t understand that one.”

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Towards the end of the game, Quick’s blocking got a bit shaky having saved a shot up in the air that by a miracle deflected off the top of the net. Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist took advantage of a broken play with 3:31 left in the game to give the Predators the 3-2 win.

“I thought they played a pretty good game,” Murray said. “They had a great start the first ten minutes of the first period. They did a lot of things to get their game established. On the other side of it, I wished we checked a little bit better the first ten minutes and maybe managed the puck through the middle of the ice to get our game going in the offensive zone.”

“The way we approached the game today, we were lacking energy and lacking effort,” Kopitar said. “It is not the way to start a game especially against a team we have not had success against.”

“When you have a team that plays that consistently you can’t have shifts off,” Dustin Brown said with a bloody lip.

The Kings have now lost six straight games to the Predators dating back to last season and were 4-6-0 at the Staples Center coming into the game against Nashville. Nashville outshot the Kings 31-20 with Quick saving 28 shots for the Kings and Rinne saving 18 for the Predators.

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“You’ve got to move on now,” Murray said. “The game is over with, and we have to know that we have to come back out with a better start to the game. What’s in front of us is pretty demanding.

“We just need to get our game in order. We need to come for sixty minutes and know the importance of every play, of every pass, of every face off. And certainly getting through the middle of the ice to get your game established in the early part is critical. It seems to be something we’re not buying into throughout this year, and we have to start to figure that part out."