Kempe, Byfield lead shorthanded Kings over Predators 6-1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Adrian Kempe and Quinton Byfield both scored twice, and the shorthanded Los Angeles Kings scored three times in the first 11 minutes to defeat the Nashville Predators 6-1 on Tuesday night.
Byfield, the second pick in the 2020 NHL draft, had the first two-goal game of his career along with an assist. The 19-year-old center became the first Kings teenager with a multigoal game since Oscar Moller in 2008, and the first with a three-point game since Anze Kopitar in 2006.
Byfield missed the first half of the season after he broke his left ankle during the preseason, but has four goals and seven points in 25 games. He snapped an 11-game goal drought, which he said had been starting to weigh on him.
“I think it helps quite a bit, for sure. Having that feeling that I know I can score now, beat goaltenders in the NHL, is definitely a confidence booster,” he said. “I like to have a lot of confidence in myself, but the pressure just comes with where I was slotted. There’s a lot of eyes on you, so, just want to produce and help the team as much as I can.”
Both of Byfield’s goals came in the third period. He took a centering pass from Rasmus Kupari at 5:59 to extend the Kings’ lead to 4-1. He then caught Nashville goaltender David Rittich playing out of the net and knocked in the puck after a turnover at 13:46 to put Los Angeles up by five.
“When you’re chosen because of all your offensive skills as a young player, an 18-year-old, it’s hard to transfer those to the NHL. And while you’re doing that, what else can you provide? Some physicality,” coach Todd McLellan said. “He was involved in piles, scrums, net front, faceoff circle. Much more of a physical attitude and, guess what? You score. So good for him.”
It was the sixth multigoal game this season for Kempe, who leads the Kings with 28 goals.
Kopitar forced Nick Cousins to turn over the puck deep in the zone and found a streaking Kempe, who put a wrist shot from the slot past Rittich at 3:26 to open the scoring. Kempe added an open-net goal at 13:18 of the third.
Trevor Moore had a goal and an assist, and Kopitar added two assists. Arthur Kaliyev also scored for the Kings, who won for the third time in five games despite missing seven players from their lineup. Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots.
The Kings — second in the Pacific Division with 78 points — scored an even-strength, power-play and shorthanded goal during the first period of a game for only the fourth time in 20 years. The last time was Dec. 31, 2019, against Philadelphia.
“I was looking at our goal differential before the game. It’s kind of weird, we were plus-one, so it was kind of nice that we were able to get a couple goals tonight and make it a little easier,” said Moore, whose shorthanded goal on an odd-man rush extended Los Angeles’ lead to 3-0 in the first.
Philip Tomasino scored for Nashville, which had won two straight and four of five. Roman Josi had the first assist to extend his point streak to 11 games. The defenseman, who has 21 assists during that span, is second in the league with 60 assists and eighth in scoring with 78 points.
Tomasino put in Nashville’s lone goal 3:33 into the second on a rebound for his 10th of the season after Quick stopped Josi’s shot.
“I thought we didn’t have a great start. Some of it was on us and some of it was on LA. They hunted us in our own zone,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “We had some good looks in the second period. First period probably cost us the game, but I liked our pushback.”
Rittich made 29 saves. The Predators have 78 points and are currently the first wild card in the Western Conference on a tiebreaker with Minnesota. St. Louis is in second place in the Central Division with 79.
SPECIAL TEAMS SUCCESS
The Kings came in a league-worst 2 for 26 with the man advantage over the past nine games but scored on their first opportunity Tuesday night.
Kaliyev extended the lead to 2-0 at 6:36 of the first period when he beat Rittich on his glove side with a top-shelf wrist shot. It was Kaliyev’s 12th of the season and first in 10 games.
Moore also picked up his 12th of the season when they were a man down. Los Angeles has seven shorthanded goal this season, tied for fifth in the NHL.
Nashville’s Filip Forsberg — who had a five-point night Monday in a 6-3 win over Anaheim — and Matt Duchene saw their point streaks end.
Forsberg had eight goals and 17 points in seven games before Tuesday night while Duchene, who scored twice against the Ducks, saw his run end at 10 games after accounting for 11 goals and 20 points.
Predators: Conclude their three-game road trip at Vegas on Thursday.
Kings: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
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