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Panthers stay perfect on trip with 3-2 win over Kings

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Cats post first win in La La Land since 2002

NHL: Florida Panthers at Anaheim Ducks Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers won for the fourth straight time on the road, beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at Staples Center to leapfrog the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins and move into third place in the Atlantic Division.

A day after being held off the scoresheet for the first time, Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring with a hard shot from the top of the left circle after taking a no look pass from Aleksander Barkov. Vincent Trocheck, on because of a delayed penalty call, drew the second assist on the goal that came 15:05 into the action.

The Panthers went up by two when Reilly Smith found Jussi Jokinen wide open in the high slot and the veteran Finn beat Peter Budaj with a wrister for his ninth goal 1:14 into the second period. Alex Petrovic picked up the second assist for getting the puck to Smith behind the net.

Los Angeles got on the board 4:25 later when Derek Kings was able to get a loose puck past Roberto Luongo, who couldn’t move due to the crowd in his crease. Trevor Lewis and Nick Shore got assists on the goal that went to review, where it was ruled that Mark Pysyk pushed Shore into Luongo.

The Kings keep coming and found the equalizer at the 11:56 mark. After taking a pass from Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson turned around Jason Demers and walked in on Luongo, beating him between the legs with a deftly placed backhand.

Florida managed to survive the rest of the second period, thanks to some fine goaltending from Luongo, who finished with 33 saves, and retook the lead 15 seconds into the final frame.

Barkov potted the eventual game-winner after taking a chip pass off the boards from Jaromir Jagr in the neutral zone and then fended off the hooking of Carter before somehow putting a backhander by the laid out Budaj from just below the goal line.

Barkov has accounted for five goals and eight points in six games since returning from his back injury.

The Panthers will look to make it a perfect 5 for 5 trek west when the road trip concludes Monday night in St. Louis.

Baubles & Bits

  • The victory was Florida’s first in Los Angeles since a 5-2 win all the way back on November 27, 2002. The Cats are now 5-2-4 in the second game of a back-to-back this season.
  • Ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr’s second period assist gave him points (2G/3A) in his last five games.
  • Speaking of assists, Vincent Trocheck has collected a helper in five straight games. Trocheck has seven points during his five-game scoring streak.
  • After doing an admirable job filling in all season for Jonathan Quick, Peter Budaj seems to be running on fumes. Budaj, who finished with 22 stops, is 1-4 with 19 goals allowed in his last five outings.
  • Jussi Jokinen scored just five goals over his first 42 games. Jokinen has now potted four in six February games. Talk about heating up at the right time.
  • Big night for defenseman Alex Petrovic. In addition to his helper on the Jokinen goal, Petro registered three shots on goal, three blocks and dished out four hits.
  • Kings forward Tanner Pearson has scored four goals in the last three games and is second on the team behind Jeff Carter with 19.
  • Jewels From The Crown has the other side of Florida’s latest success on the road. That kind of lux is for us.