Just when it looked like the Kings might get caught in a mind-numbing defensive quagmire set for them by the offensively-challenged Nashville Predators, Jeff Carter skated to the rescue with one flick of his wrist. Then another. Then another.
Carter’s fifth career three-goal game propelled the Kings to a 5-1 victory Monday night over the Predators at Staples Center. He scored his team-leading 12th, 13th and 14th goals to lead the Kings to their sixth win in their last seven games and their first in three tries against Nashville.
The Kings struggled to get shots on net, let alone generate scoring chances through the first 40 minutes of a defensive chess match. Carter took care of the offense with a power-play goal in the second and then a pair of even-strength goals only 19 seconds apart in the third.
Hats littered the ice after Carter’s swiped the puck from Nashville’s Roman Josi at center ice and then beat Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne with a backhander to complete his hat trick and give the Kings a 3-0 lead 4 minutes, 58 seconds into the final period.
Mike Richards added a power-play goal and Dwight King scored his first of the season to extend the Kings’ lead to 5-0. Defenseman Slava Voynov had a career-high three assists for the Kings, who improved their record to 11-7-2. Nashville fell to 9-9-5.
Nashville’s Gabriel Bourque ended Jonathan Bernier’s shutout bid at 13:05 of the third.