The Florida Panthers finished up their three game trip out to California with a resounding thud in the City of Angels, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
Despite scoring first, the Panthers were never really in the game. The Kings handled the puck at will, winning 40-of-68 faceoffs and easily taking the puck away from Florida players after their infrequent faceoff losses. The Panthers got the first two shots on goal in the opening minute of play, then allowed the Kings the next 10 shots on goal over the following 17 minutes before getting another. Nick Bjugstad did open the scoring, from Jonathan Huberdeau, for Florida with 29 seconds left in the period.
Los Angeles outshot the Panthers 20-to-4 in the second frame, beating a besieged Roberto Luongo three times without ever really facing a decent threat from the Cats in their own end. Jeff Carter (7), Drew Doughty (PPG, 1), and Anze Kopitar (5) each lit the lamp for the Kings in the outburst, which lasted just over four minutes starting at the 13:16 mark.
The Panthers woke up a bit in the third, outshooting the Kings 10-to-5, but they couldn't beat Jonathan Quick again. Milan Lucic (3) buried one of those five shots for the final margin of victory. Carter assisted on the play for his second point of the night. Tyler Toffoli also ended the game with multiple points, earning two assists in the second period barrage.
Quick was never really challenged, and just had to make 18 stops to earn an easy win. This, opposed to Luongo, who required prayers and acrobatics to allow only four goals. He made 31 saves, but saw his save percentage drop to .931.
The consensus opinion around the LBC campfire is that something has to change, and regardless of what I think should happen, I have a feeling that Gerard Gallant is on thin ice, figuratively speaking. Let me state for the record here that I have no "inside information" on the subject.
After getting the Panthers' faithful fan base excited with a 5-3-1 start, the Cats have lost their last five games by a combined 17-7 margin, earning only two of a possible ten points in the process. Although it's true that Aleksander Barkov has been out with an injury, that's no reason to think the season would become completely lost. Do you still love your Panthers? So do we. So lets everybody calm down and put your pitchforks away, please. It's still early.
Here's your NHL.COM recap page, the hockey-reference.com box score, the advanced stat roundup from war-on-ice.com, and the bad guys page. And guys - have a drink, eh?
Next up for the Panthers is a two game homestand, where they will welcome the Calgary Flames then the Buffalo Sabres to the BB&T Center in Sunrise. For more on the Kings game, go to Jewels From The Crown. Matchsticks and Gasoline has more on the Flames.