Game 14; 9-5-0
LOS ANGELES — For a team that hasn’t gained much notoriety for winning matinee games, the Los Angeles Kings are now 2-0-0 on the season when playing during the day. Last Saturday, it was a thrilling overtime win over Nashville and this Saturday, while not quite as thrilling, the silver-and-black downed the Florida Panthers by a 4-1 count.
The Panthers, looking to salvage a win on their California tour, scored first.
With 29 seconds to go in the first Nick Bjugstad — son of one-time King, Scott — took a fairly weak-looking shot that beat Jonathan Quick stick-side. The goal, from Jonathan Huberdeau, was Bjugstad’s fifth but it was all the offense the Panthers could muster on this day.
After outshooting Florida 10-4 in the first, the Kings poured it on in the second, firing 20 shots on netminder Roberto Luongo, finally tying the game at the 13:16 mark. That’s when Jeff Carter cashed in on a one-timer from Tyler Toffoli who made some nice moves himself before setting up the equalizer. The goal, Carter’s seventh, was extra special for defenseman Derek Forbort who recorded his first-career NHL point with the assist. But the Kings were not done there.
Just three-and-a-half minutes later, the silver-and-black took the lead and, for fans wanting to see Drew Doughty finally score this season, the Norris nominee made the wait worthwhile.
While on the power play, the Kings were attacking when Jake Muzzin fed a wide-open Drew Doughty where he fired a one-timer that trickled past Luongo to put the Kings up for the first time. Tyler Toffoli picked his second helper of the game on the goal. Then, just 55 seconds later, the Kings were attacking again when Anze Kopitar picked up his own rebound in front to shove his fifth past Luongo to give the home team some insurance. Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson helped out with the assists.
In the third, the Kings added to their lead as Milan Lucic tipped in a Jeff Carter point shot for his third, and that was all the scoring in this one.
In goal, Jonathan Quick redeemed himself after allowing the game’s opening goal. He didn’t see as many shots as his counterpart but No. 32 was nonetheless sharp as he made 18 saves en route to his team’s ninth victory of the season.
The TLC Line was the most effective on this day as trio combined for five points while Lucic, in addition to his goal, led the way physically with eight hits.
After their less-than-inspiring play on Thursday vs. Columbus, the Kings entered Saturday’s contest with a vengeance, continuing their fine defensive play but picking up their offensive game in the process. The end result was a well-earned two points.
It’s a few days off for the Kings now as they will next focus on the Arizona Coyotes, who visit STAPLES Center on Tuesday night for already the second time this season. There, the silver-and-black will honour new Hall-of-Famer Nick Nickson as part of the club’s Legends Night series prior to the game.
Speaking of Nickson, he will now travel to Toronto to take part in the Hockey Hall of Fame induction festivities before being officially enshrined on Monday.