Preds top Kings, set stage for West showdown with Ducks

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The Nashville Predators have been struggling lately, yet after beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, they’re now back on top of the Central Division and Western Conference. Sunday’s game will determine if Nashville even makes it out of the weekend with that conference lead, however.

Jeff Carter scored the game’s first goal in the first period. The Predators weren’t able to find the net until the final frame, yet they beat Jonathan Quick in rapid succession, scoring two goals in less than a minute and a half to win 2-1.

After a troubling six-game losing streak (not to mention dropping eight of 10), the Predators have now won two of the first three games on their four-game road trip, which ends tomorrow against the Ducks in Anaheim.

Pekka Rinne was sharp in the game, which happened to represent his 200th career win.

That now stands as a clear match to temporarily hold the top spot in the West.

Technically, Nashville has the No. 1 spot in the West, as both teams have identical 43-20-7 records but the Preds have two more regulation/overtime wins. It won’t really matter tomorrow, though, as the victor will at least briefly stand alone in the West.

To some, that top spot may just be a curse in disguise … at least if the Kings grab the final wild card spot.

A lot can change in that regard, especially since this loss leaves Los Angeles outside of the two wild card spots. It’s probably easiest just to take an updated look at the West race, via NHL.com’s standings:

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The Colorado Avalanche beat the Calgary Flames in regulation while the Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets held serve with wins to keep the playoff picture more or less in place. The basic takeaway is that it could be a very competitive battle for those final spots, not to mention seeding with the heavyweight teams.