The Los Angeles Kings are beginning to lose their way after an impressive October and will look to snap out of their funk Saturday afternoon when the improving Florida Panthers pay a visit. Los Angeles burst out of the gate with points in 10 of its first 11 games (9-1-1), but has gone 2-5-1 since and managed only six goals total while losing the last four - capped by a 2-1 loss to Boston on Thursday.
“It starts with checking and competing,” Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve had good starts. We’ve let them slip. We’ve started poorly and battled back. I think the big focus for us is to come out with that urgency and that desperation for a full 60.” Kings coach John Stevens told reporters his team has to “dig down” to climb out of its slump and it will be challenged by the Panthers, who have won two in a row for the first time since the second and third games of the season. Florida defeated Dallas 4-3 in a shootout before beginning its three-game trip with a 2-0 victory at San Jose on Thursday with Roberto Luongo’s 74th career shutout. The Panthers have improved defensively over the last four games while allowing only six goals.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (7-9-2): Luongo, who stands fourth all-time in the NHL with 457 wins and 11th in shutouts, is 3-1-1 with a .943 save percentage since returning from a hand injury that forced him to miss two weeks. “The guy never ceases to amaze me,” Florida coach Bob Boughner told reporters after Thursday’s win. “He kept his composure, especially in the scrambles. He wasn’t over-moving. He was real square every time.” Vincent Trocheck had an assist Thursday for his 15th point in the last 13 games and is tied for second on the team with 19 - two behind Jonathan Huberdeau.
ABOUT THE KINGS (11-6-2): Captain Anze Kopitar has continued his production during the scoring slump, notching an assist Thursday to extend his point streak to 10 games (three goals, nine assists). Versatile forward Jussi Jokinen, who was acquired from Edmonton in exchange for Mike Cammalleri recently, recorded an assist on Drew Doughty’s power-play goal in his Los Angeles debut for his second point of the season in 15 contests. “He’s a veteran guy that’s got good smarts,” Stevens told reporters. “I certainly saw lots of things about his game that you like and can help us.”
1. Florida C Aleksander Barkov, who is tied for second on the team with 19 points, has four goals and an assist in five career games against the Kings.
2. Los Angeles G Jonathan Quick is 7-2-0 with 1.72 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in nine career games against the Panthers.
3. The teams split a pair of games last season with each winning on the road.
PREDICTION: Kings 3, Panthers 2