Kings, Pierre-Luc Dubois look to stay hot vs. Predators

By Thomson Reuters Feb 22, 2024 | 2:18 AM

It wasn’t long ago when Los Angeles Kings forward Pierre-Luc Dubois was receiving some of the blame for the team’s sudden downturn, a 2-8-6 stretch after the Christmas break that ultimately led to the firing of coach Todd McLellan.

Dubois appears to have turned things around under interim coach Jim Hiller and he’ll try to stay the course when the Kings host the Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Dubois scored two goals in a 5-1 win against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, helping Los Angeles record its fourth straight win.

Dubois has three goals and three assists in six games since Hiller took over on Feb. 2, and the Kings have gone 5-1-0 in those games.

“He’s playing the game with more intensity, and that’s all over the ice,” Hiller said. “So, he’s stepped up his game, there’s no question.”

Dubois was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets on June 27 in exchange for forwards Alex Iafallo, Rasmus Kupari and Gabriel Vilardi, as well as a second-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft.

Dubois immediately signed an eight-year, $68 million contract, but the production didn’t come as quickly. He had just seven goals at the midway point of the season, well off the pace he set last season, when he scored 27.

Dubois, 25, appears to have found consistency playing with 21-year-old right wing Quinton Byfield, however.

“He’s a great player, that’s why we brought him in,” Byfield said of Dubois. “He’s been good for us, really good for us lately and it’s easy to play with him. He holds on to pucks, he’s playing both ends of the ice really well, he’s skating good, he’s doing all the right things very well and making it easy on me. We just kind of look for each other out there and it’s kind of connecting right now.”

On the downside, another left wing for the Kings, Viktor Arvidsson, lasted just 17 seconds of his first shift on Tuesday before sustaining a lower-body injury.

Arvidsson was in his fourth game back after missing the first 50 following offseason back surgery.

Hiller did not have an update after the game, telling reporters the team will take a “closer look” at Arvidsson on Wednesday. He combined for 46 goals and 62 assists over the previous two seasons in Los Angeles.

The Predators are coming off a 5-3 win at the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday night.

Nashville received three goals from its third line, the type of production the Predators have needed this season.

“You need depth in this league,” Nashville defenseman Roman Josi said. “There’s so many good teams, so many teams with depth, so you need scoring from all four lines.”

The win pulled Nashville even in points with the St. Louis Blues for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference with three other teams within three points of the Predators entering Thursday.

The Predators beat the Blues 5-2 on Saturday to begin their current two-game winning streak.

Nashville had planned to fly to Las Vegas and attend a U2 concert after the St. Louis game, but a 9-2 loss to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 15 caused general manager Barry Trotz and head coach Andrew Brunette to scrap those plans and the team returned to Nashville instead.

–Field Level Media