Recap: Muzzin's Costly Own Goal Hands Nashville Two Points
The Predators played well enough to beat LA in their own building, but a freakish deflection sealed the deal.
The Los Angeles Kings and Nashville Predators played to a draw in almost every conceivable way on Saturday night, but one unfortunate deflection gave the visitors all two points.
It was an odd sort of game, because while the teams finished about equal in close-game Corsi, special teams performance, and goaltending (again I'm right in my analysis), Nashville probably felt like they deserved the win. Having said that, LA started off pretty well aside from a golden Nashville scoring chance denied by Jonathan Quick. Soon after, new father Anze Kopitar drew a penalty, and LA's power play grabbed the lead. Andrej Sekera's slap shot was blocked by Ryan Ellis, but Jeff Carter was in perfect position to wrist the puck into the partially open net behind Pekka Rinne.
As we mentioned in the preview, though, Rinne's been in good form despite Nashville's struggles. He was only beaten by one more shot on the evening, and it came off the stick of Andy Andreoff late in the first. It was a nice bit of work by Andreoff, who allowed for the defender to block Rinne's initial view of the puck and wired one off the far post from above the circle. Great shot and bad luck for Andreoff, who had one of his best games of the season.
Andy Andreoff is leading LAK with 6 total entries and 4 controlled entries.— James Nicholson (@ulyssesjim) March 15, 2015
However, Nashville started turning the screws in the second period, and it was apparent that they weren't being shut out for the second straight game unless Quick really stood on his head. For the rest of the frame he did just that, enduring two penalty kills and a testy 4-on-4. However, in the third, LA's stellar penalty kill finally cracked. With Nick Shore off for playing the puck with his hand on a faceoff (why do skaters still do this? habit?), Quick got just enough of Ryan Ellis' slapper to divert it . However, Craig Smith got to it as it trickled past the far post and tucked it in the net.
So here's the thing about Jake Muzzin. You know what you're gonna get from him. He's probably going to be on the ice for a lot more shots at the other goalie than against his own goalie; including tonight, he's had a negative Corsi in just 5 of 29 games in 2015. He'll shoot the puck quite a bit himself, and this year, his seven goals lead all Kings d-men. In his own end? He's improved quite a bit since a mistake-ridden 2013 rookie season, but there's a reason many of us are familiar with the phrase, "Dammit Muzzin." He'd been quite good in this one, though, good enough that Fox Sports West was actually putting together a highlight package of his play for the postgame.
Unfortunately, the highlight reel had a twist ending. With Matt Greene by his side instead of Drew Doughty, there are more opportunities for Muzzin to get exposed, and one led to the winner. Nashville broke in on what looked like a 3-on-2, but needing a line change, only Calle Jarnkrok went forward. Viktor Stalberg tried to pass it to him...
... but Muzzin extended his stick to break up the pass. He only succeeded in deflecting it into the top corner, though, and just 1:07 after Nashville had tied the game, they were in front. Over the rest of the evening, LA earned a possession advantage that was pretty much cosmetic, as the Kings couldn't break the Predators' resistance. In a resurgence of my biggest pet peeve, Darryl Sutter waited until there was 1:08 left to pull his goalie, despite having two offensive-zone faceoffs and a fair bit of pressure in the prior minute. Naturally, they had one harmless shot on goal with the 6-on-4 advantage, and 2-1 was the final.
Not a bad performance, especially against a team that still leads the Central, but it completes a Nashville season sweep and puts LA back behind the 8-ball going forward. Your thoughts?