Just when it looked like the Kings might get bogged down in a mind-numbing defensive trap set for them by the offensively challenged Nashville Predators, Jeff Carter skated to the rescue with one flick of his wrist.

Then another. Then another.

Carter's fifth career three-goal game propelled the Kings to a 5-1 victory Monday night over the Predators at Staples Center. He scored his team-leading 12 th, 13 th and 14 th goals to guide the Kings to their sixth win in their past seven games and their first in three tries against Nashville.

The Kings struggled to get shots on net, let alone generate scoring chances through the first 40 minutes of a defensive chess match. Carter took care of the offense with a power-play goal in the second period and then a pair of even-strength goals only 19 seconds apart in the third.

Hats littered the ice after Carter swiped the puck from Nashville's Roman Josi at center ice and then beat Predators' goaltender Pekka Rinne with a back-hander to complete his hat trick and give the Kings a 3-0 lead 4 minutes, 58 seconds into the final period.

"It was nice, it was fun, scored some big goals for the team to give us a little bit of a cushion," Carter said of recording his first hat trick since Feb. 21, 2012, against the San Jose Sharks while with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Kings' five-game winning streak and Carter's five-game goal-scoring streak ended with a lackluster 5-2 loss Saturday to the Vancouver Canucks. Nevertheless, Carter has eight goals while scoring in his six of his past seven games, a hot streak by any measure.