In 309 career regular season NHL games, Nashville’s Kevin Klein has scored 12 goals. During the 2011-12 season, Klein tied his single season career high of 4 goals.
However, in Klein’s last 13 playoff games – dating back to last season’s Anaheim series – he has 3 goals, all in road victories.
Klein scored his first career playoff goal in Game 5 of last season’s Western Conference Quarterfinals.
With the series tied at 2 games apiece between the Predators and the Ducks, Klein opened the scoring in the first period.
Nashville would go on to win the game in overtime – the first in franchise history – and take a 3-2 lead in the series.
A year later, on Sunday, the Predators were clinging to a 1-goal lead in the third game of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals. The series was tied at 1-1 and the Predators were playing on their heels. Suddenly, Klein split two Red Wings defenders and scored a goal on Jimmy Howard to put Nashville up 2-0.
The Predators would go on to defeat the Red Wings 3-2 – the first postseason win at Detroit – and take a 2-1 series lead, while reclaiming home-ice advantage.
In Game 4 on Tuesday night, with the game tied at 1-1, Klein found the scoring touch again, as he beat Jimmy Howard for the second game in a row when every single Red Wing defender covered Martin Erat when Erat and Klein broke into the Detroit zone.
Klein’s goal on Tuesday proved to be the game-winner in the 3-1 Game 4 victory, as Nashville took a 3-1 lead in a series for the first time in franchise history.
In two games in a series against their division rival, Kevin Klein has scored as many – or more – goals than he did in the 2009-10 season (1) and the 2010-11 season (2).
Including the playoffs, the Predators have actually won the last 8 games in which Klein has tallied a goal, with the last loss coming at Joe Louis Arena in October of 2010.
Nashville is 12-2 all-time when Klein scores, the two losses being against the Red Wings on October 30, 2010, and against St. Louis on December 8, 2008.
A statistical anomaly? Perhaps. However, Nashville’s Francis Bouillon had a better explanation while discussing his own late season scoring surge.
“It’s always nice when the defensemen jump in,” Bouillon said, after Nashville’s home finale. “The forwards like it. It’s always nice to create a 3-on-2 instead of a 2-on-2. ”
When defensemen like Klein and Bouillon find their way onto the scoresheet, it creates extra threats on the ice that teams are forced to match-up against and defend. When they opt to not defend the defenseman on an offensive chance – as was seen on Tuesday night – there is a large potential of getting burned.
Now, largely due to the Red Wings’ inability to defend Klein on his scoring play on Tuesday, the Predators just have to win one of the next three games in order to win their second ever playoff series and move to the Western Conference Semifinals for the second year in a row.