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LOS ANGELES: The meagre number of shots Jeff Carter and the rest of the Los Angeles Kings sent toward Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne wasn’t much of an issue.
Rinne’s inability to stop the puck once the Kings got their offense going in the third period certainly was.
Carter completed his fifth career hat-trick with two goals in a 19-second span of the final period, and the defending Stanley Cup champions beat the Nashville Predators 5-1 yesterday despite taking only 16 shots on net.
“We probably would have had a lot more on net if we got pucks past their D and to the net, but they do a great job of blocking shots,” said Carter, who has 10 goals over his last 10 games. The Predators, who tied a season high for shots allowed on Saturday when they yielded 39 in a 2-1 loss at San Jose, outshot the Kings 13-6 through the first two periods.
Rinne was pulled by coach Barry Trotz after giving up five goals on 13 shots.
Rinne, who led the league with 43 wins last season, stopped 55 of the 56 shots the Kings put on him during the first two meetings.
The only goal he let in was by Brown in a 2-1 victory on January 31 that was decided in an eight-round shootout.
Kings backup Jonathan Bernier made 18 saves and has won five consecutive starts for the first time in his NHL career, equaling his entire win total from last season in 16 games. The five-year veteran didn’t play at all during the Kings’ championship run as Jonathan Quick captured the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP.
Mike Richards and Dwight King also scored during a four-goal third period and defenseman Slava Voynov had a career-high three assists.
Richards’ goal, a one-timer from the right circle, came during a power play while Martin Erat was serving a boarding penalty. King’s first of the season came on a centering pass from the right corner by Jarret Stoll.
Nashville’s Craig Smith was off for high-sticking Dustin Brown when Carter opened the scoring at 5:28 of the second period. He chipped the puck away from Kevin Klein in the left circle and backhanded it toward the crease from a sharp angle before it slid under Rinne’s right leg and off the goalie’s left skate.
Carter made it 2-0 at 4:39 of the third period after Colin Fraser set him up in front of the net.
Moments later, he found himself on a breakaway after a turnover by Nashville defenseman Roman Josi at the red line, and a number of hats from the sellout crowd of 18,118 already had hit the ice before Carter tucked his 14th goal behind Rinne with Nashville captain Shea Weber right on his heels. It was only the eighth shot on net by the Kings to that point.
Gabriel Bourque spoiled Bernier’s bid for his sixth career shutout with 6:55 to play. The Predators, who came in with a league-low 46 goals, haven’t won a game in regulation since beating Phoenix 3-0 at home on Feb. 14.
Los Angeles went 15 minutes, 26 seconds before its first shot on net, a 30-foot backhander by King that Rinne kicked out with his right leg. The Kings had a season-low three shots during the opening period.
The Kings began a 12-game stretch in which they will play 10 times at home. AGENCIES