The Florida Panthers were thrity-two seconds away from opening its seven-game road trip with a win, but surrendered a late goal to Martin Frk before falling 3-2 in a shootout to the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena.
Florida outplayed the Kings in the opening period, but were not able to beat Jonathan Quick, which came back to bite them later.
Rasmus Kupari opened the scoring at the 11:50 mark when he stickhandled his way into the Panthers zone, working his from right to left before shoveling a backhand shot past Spencer Knight. The assists on Kupari’s fourth went to rookies Quinton Byfield and Jordan Spence. It was Spence’s first NHL point.
The Cats drew even 43 seconds into the middle frame with the Kings on power play when Jonathan Huberdeau intercepted a pass in his zone and sprung Eetu Luostarinen. Luostarinen spilt the Los Angeles defense and solved Quick five-hole with a low, hard shot.
Florida forged ahead 3:01 later on Brandon Montour’s seventh of the season. Aleksander Barkov drifted back to the right point and sent a shot through traffic that deflected off Patric Hornqvist to Montour, who had switched positions with Barkov. He took the puck off his skate and quickly whacked it by Quick while falling to the ice.
There would be no more scoring until the late stages when Jonathan Huberdeau received an elbowing penalty and the Kings pulled Quick for a two-man advantage to set the stage for the tying goal.
Sean Durzi held in Aaron Ekblad’s backhand clearing attempt at the line, and then sent a crossing pass over to Frk, who loaded up and absolutely hammered a shot off the post and in from the middle of the left circle that Knight had no chance on. Frk was recalled from AHL Ontario earlier in the day.
The teams combined for eleven shots (6-5 Los Angeles) in an exciting overtime, but Knight and Quick held strong to push the tilt to the limit.
Barkov put the Panthers on top in the bottom of the second round, only to see Adrian Kempe answer in the bottom of the third. Trevor Moore opened the top of the fifth by keeping it simple and sniping Knight glove-side. Anthony Duclair tried to dazzle Quick with some fancy mitt work, but the veteran wasn’t fooled and made the stop that gave the Kings the bonus point.
The Panthers played a pretty solid road game, coming one clear short of pulling out a win, That said, they had their chances against a depleted Kings team, but couldn’t solve Quick a third time to come away with two points, so the loss was a bit disappointing considering the table was set nicely. Knight delivered a quality start, finishing with 35 saves, that on the vast majority of nights would’ve been plenty good enough to backstop his team to victory. We just didn’t get the usual Panthers scoring exploits in this one. The club is off today before facing the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.
Baubles & Bits
- First Star Jonathan Quick became the fourth American-born goalie to play in 700 NHL games, joining former Panther John Vanbiesbrouck (882), Ryan Miller (796) and Tom Barrasso (777). Quick stopped 30 shots in 65 minutes and three more in the shootout.
- Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to five games (1G/10). He has produced 60 points in 46 games this season. Only Pavel Bure (44 games in 1999-2000) and Jonathan Huberdeau (45 games in 2019-20 and 2021-22) have reached the 60-mark in fewer games in franchise history.
- Speaking of Huberdeau, he now has assists (8) in five-straight games. Huberdeau’s second period helper tied him with Connor McDavid for the NHL scoring lead (83 points) with 23 games to go for both players.
- Eetu Luostarinen’s goal was his first of 2022 and ended a 26-game dry spell. The last time he lit the lamp was on December 30 in a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay.
- Los Angeles defenseman Jordan Spence picked up his first NHL point in his third career game. Spence is first Australian born player, as well as the first skater with Japanese citizenship to play in the league. Pretty cool...
- Radko Gudas dished out a game-high eight hits while MacKenzie Weegar blocked a game-high seven shots.
- For more on the Kings season series sweep of the Cats visit Jewels from The Crown.