Recap: Late Vilardi goal gives Kings 5-4 win over Panthers

Cats almost scratch out a point, but fall short

Gabriel Vilardi scored with 3:18 left in the third period to lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers at Arena.

After Sam Bennett lost an defensive zone draw to Anze Kopitar, the puck went back to defenseman Alexander Edler. His shot missed wide. Unfortunately, it caromed off the back boards to Vilardi and he didn’t miss, putting a low shot in just above Sergei Bobrovsky’s leg pad.

The Panthers got the only the goal of the first period when Ryan Lomberg beat Jonathan Quick from the right circle with the lone assist going to Rudolfs Blacers at the 11-minute mark.

After Rasmus Kaspri burst into the slot to finish off a Kevin Fiala center to tie the tilt 9:27 into the second, Carter Verhaeghe restored Florida’s lead with his sixth of the season 18 seconds later. Aleksander Barkov headmanned the puck to Gustav Forsling, who carried into the Los Angeles zone before dishing off to Verhaeghe, who beat his check before putting a centering feed meant for Matthew Tkachuk in off Mikey Anderson’s skate.

The goals kept coming as Trevor Moore beat Bobrovsky by deflecting Viktor Arvidsson’s shot from above the left circle by Bobrovsky 34 seconds after Verhaeghe’s marker.

A key moment in the game occured with 2:21 left in the middle frame. Brandon Montour blasted a shot by Quick that appeared to tick in off of Tkachuk, but the goal was waived off as Tkachuk made contact with the goalie first. Paul Maurice lost the challenge giving the Kings a power play that Arvidsson cashed in at 19:34 to give the Kings their first lead. Quick caught the Panthers in the line change and his stretch pass to Arvidsson was dropped to Moore, who crossed to a wide-open Kopitar, who fed Arvidsson for the put-away.

The Panthers responded to the adversity by striking quickly upon returning for the third. Sam Reinhart found Eetu Luostarinen open on the the left side and he went backhand to forehand before just getting it through Quick to tie the game at 1:18. Nick Cousins collected the secondary assist for his first point as a Panther.

Blake Lizotte quickly gave the Kings the lead back at 2:40 by sweeping in his own rebound in after Bobrovsky saved his initial shot on a breakaway with the assists going to Matt Roy and Arthur Kaliyev.

Verhaeghe got his second of the night at 5:04 after fanning on his first shot after Tkachuk took the puck away from Roy underneath the Los Angeles goal line and found him open in front.

Unfortunately, on a night when the offense was productive, the Panthers were unable to tack on a fifth or keep the Kings from scoring again to get at least a point. A poor game on the defensive side, sloppy mental mistakes (including Maurice’s ill-advised challenge) and another lackluster performance from Bobrovsky conspired to drop the Cats to 1-2 on the road trip and 6-5-1 overall. Florida gets right back at it tonight against the Anaheim Ducks in the OC.

Baubles & Bits

  • Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in his 600th NHL game for the Panthers. Bobrovksy is 1-3-1 in his last five starts and his GAA has risen to 3.29.
  • Gabriel Vilardi’s game-winning goal was his ninth, which is one shy of his NHL career high. He scored 10 goals in 54 games in 2020-21.
  • The Kings got six power plays to the Panthers two. Florida delivered yet another 0-fer while the Los Angeles converted once.
  • In addition to scoring his fourth of the season, Eetu Luostarinen had a team-high six shots on goal and was credited with a hit.
  • Viktor Arvidsson and Trevor Moore each had a goal and an assist, and Anze Kopitar had two assists, Jonathan Quick made 34 saves for the Kings, who ended a two-game skid./