The Kings’ dressing room was empty, except for Cal Petersen, when Drew Doughty walked through.
The arena noise had long ended, and Doughty gave his goalie a pat on the behind in a gesture that summed up the night. Petersen somehow blocked out the aural assault from a record 17,627 fans at Bridgestone Arena for most of Saturday night, but he could only keep the Kings sound for so long. His defensemen beat a path to the penalty box and the Kings wilted under a sea of screaming yellow in a 5-3 loss to the Nashville Predators.
Kings defensemen committed five penalties, two of which turned into goals, including one that led to Calle Jarnkrok’s first career hat trick. Instead of a celebration around Petersen like the night before, the game ended with a Predators’ stick salute after they erased a 3-2 deficit and put 42 shots on Petersen.
“We’re counting on him way too much,” Doughty said. “We can’t let a lead slip away like that, and we can’t be giving up that many shots. He had to make too many big saves, and it wasn’t a good game.”
That’s been the theme for the Kings and their goalies. Petersen started on consecutive nights and became the second Kings rookie goalie to do so since Wayne Rutledge on Oct.14-15, 1967. Rutledge never faced an atmosphere like “Smashville,” which turned up the decibels with a standing ovation that lasted an entire timeout after Jarnkrok’s second goal, with Derek Forbort serving a hooking penalty, to tie it 3-3.
Nashville’s Pekka Rinne got his 318th win, which pulled him one behind Miikka Kiprusoff for the most by a Finnish goalie. Petersen’s next win will be No. 2.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Petersen said. “I appreciate the opportunity to be able to play against high-end teams and hard buildings. A little bit of baptism by fire, I guess. When you play those games, I think you realize that you can compete at that level and compete in that environment. From that point, the experience part of it is very good.”
The winner happened short-handed after Dustin Brown lost the puck at center ice. Jarnkrok went the other way and beat Petersen high on the glove side, Petersen’s right hand.
“He’s got a good release,” Petersen said. “It kind of just caught me … he was able to find it high glove. I wouldn’t say [it was] the greatest goal. Definitely a goal you can stop.”
Coach Willie Desjardins wasn’t nitpicking the goaltending. The final 20 minutes erased what he called the best first period in his six games. Petersen’s 14 saves, topped by a left-pad stop on Filip Forsberg, kept it scoreless. The Kings then scored as many goals in the second period as they did in the previous three games combined.
Alex Iafallo played a big part. He put in a loose puck on a rush for a 3-2 lead. Nineteen seconds earlier, he harassed Roman Josi off the puck, and that allowed Brown to assist Anze Kopitar for an easy conversion that snapped Kopitar’s five-game point-less streak.
Desjardins put Nate Thompson on the second power-play unit, and Thompson got his first goal just five seconds after a power play expired. It said much about Thompson, and the Kings.
“Nate’s played hard for us,” Desjardins said. “And that’s what we need here. We need guys who are going to work hard.”