- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Ryan Jones scored the go-ahead goal with 2:18 remaining, Joel Ward had a goal and an assist, and J.P. Dumont had two assists, leading the Nashville Predators to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

With their eighth victory in 11 games, the Predators overtook Dallas and Edmonton in the Western Conference playoff race and moved into seventh place. They are a point ahead of the Stars, and lead the ninth-place Oilers by two with 12 games remaining. Dallas has a game in hand on Nashville, and Edmonton has two.

Anze Kopitar, Teddy Purcell and Michal Handzus scored for the Kings, who have lost three straight.

Los Angeles will bring a six-game road losing streak into Boston on Thursday, starting a six-game trip that probably will decide their playoff chances. The 13th-place Kings are six points behind eighth-place Dallas.

On the winning goal, Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis barely kept the puck inside the Kings blue line before taking a slap shot that Jones tipped in the low slot. Erik Ersberg couldn’t control the rebound and went sprawling across the crease as Jones backhanded his seventh goal under Ersberg’s flailing arm.

Steve Sullivan put Nashville ahead 3-2 at 18:10 of the second period with his eighth goal, but Handzus tied it with 10:07 left in regulation.

The Predators, who came in with the NHL’s second-worst power-play percentage, took a 2-1 lead at 1:24 of the second while on the advantage.

Ward was left unchecked at the left of the net when he got a cross-ice pass from Dumont and tucked his 12th goal between Ersberg’s outstretched leg and the post.

Purcell tied it at 16:25 of the second during a Kings’ power play.

After coming up empty on two power plays, the Kings opened the scoring at 14:42 of the first period with Kopitar’s 25th goal and sixth in eight games. Dustin Brown’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle hit the left post and caromed to the other side of the crease, where Kopitar banked the rebound off rookie goalie Pekka Rinne’s body.

Nashville tied it with 15 seconds left in the first period on Shea Weber’s 19th goal.

Notes:@ The Predators began a stretch of six consecutive games against California teams. … Nashville scored more than two goals for only the second time in 18 road games (7-10-1). … The Predators’ previous three road wins all came on shutouts. … Ersberg, who made 38 saves in Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss at San Jose, started consecutive games for the first time since a three-game stretch Dec. 11-15. … The Predators have a chance to sweep the four-game season series on March 28 at Nashville. The Kings have never been swept by the Predators since Nashville entered the NHL in 1998-99. … Rinne, coming off his franchise-record ninth shutout on Saturday at Phoenix, was 7-1 with a 1.86 goals-against average in his previous eight starts. … Six of the Kings last seven games have been decided by one goal (3-2-1).

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