Panthers rally for 3-2 win over slumping Kings

Bjugstad and Pirri tally in the third to push Cats past champs.

Despite being outshot, outhit, and taken to school on face-offs, the Florida Panthers shook off an early third period deficit and rallied past the Los Angeles Kings for a 3-2 victory last night at the BB&T Center. The win was Florida's third in their last five games and pulled them within five points of the Boston Bruins, who have one more game in the books.

Los Angeles outshot the Panthers by a 14-8 margin in an exciting, well-played opening period that saw the clubs each notch one goal.

Aleksander Barkov opened the scoring at the 10:39 mark with a one-timer after taking a nice cross-ice feed from Brad Boyes. Jonathan Quick got his pad on the puck, but couldn't prevent the vulcanized rubber from finding pay dirt behind him. Jonathan Huberdeau also drew a helper on the surging Barkov's seventh of the season.

The Kings drew even just over five minutes later when Jamie McBain's rising beauty from blue line beat Roberto Luongo, who was neatly screened by pivot Anze Kopitar.

After a scoreless, and rather uneventful second period, the Kings grabbed the lead early in the final frame thanks to a questionable interference call on rookie defender Alex Petrovic.

It only took Los Angeles eight seconds to convert, with the goal going to Marian Gaborik. The crafty winger took a pass from Kopitar after a rebound and beat Luongo for his sixteenth of the campaign.

The defending champs kept the Cats bottled up until a ghastly turnover by defenseman Jake Muzzin sent Nick Bjugstad in alone on Quick. Bjugstad fired it home for his career-high seventeenth goal to knot the tilt at two at 7:26.

Brandon Pirri would bag the game-winner with 3:05 left in regulation. A quick Dmitry Kulikov pass sent Tomas Fleischmann streaking into the Kings zone. Fleischmann pulled up and left the puck for Pirri in the circle and he would dent Quick short side to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games.

The Cats did a nice job of holding the Kings in check the rest of the way and were rewarded with their 23rd victory of the season. The win was Florida's first over Los Angeles since February 9, 2012.

Odds & Ends

  • Roberto Luongo returned to form with a very solid 29-save performance. Luongo picked up his 19th win of the season.
  • Veteran L.A. defenseman Jamie McBain's first period goal gave him an even 100 points in his NHL career.
  • Steven Kampfer logged 15:43 TOI, blocked a shot and finished with a +1 rating in his Panther debut. Kampfer was recalled from San Antonio to fill in for the injured Willie Mitchell.
  • The Kings, who have lost three straight, are tied with Buffalo and Edmonton for fewest road wins (5) in the league.
  • This was Brandon Pirri's first game-winning goal of this season. The scorching Pirri has scored in six of his last seven outings.
  • The Kings absolutely dominated the Panthers in the face-off circle. Dave Bolland was the only Cat to have a positive night in the dot, winning 9 of 14.
  • Jonathan Quick finished with 17 saves and saw his record drop to 17-15-10.
  • Nick Bjugstad led the Cats with 5 shots on goal, but lost 11 of the 12 draws he took.
  • Check out Jewels From The Crown and Battle Of California for more coverage, Golden State style.