The Florida Panthers bounced back from two road losses to regain first place in the Southeast Division.
Sean Bergenheim and Mike Santorelli scored in the second period, sending Florida to a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Matt Bradley also scored for the Panthers and Scott Clemmensen stopped 22 shots. Shawn Matthias had two assists.
Florida beat the Kings for the first time in eight tries, snapping a seven-game losing streak to them that dated to Nov. 27, 2002. The Panthers also overtook Washington for first place — the Capitals lost to Winnipeg 3-2 in a shootout.
”I felt it was an important game. It was a really key game for us tonight, but more than that we need to stay relevant,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. ”We want to stay part of the picture.”
Drew Doughty scored for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made nine saves. Quick was replaced by Jonathan Bernier to start the third period, and he stopped 11 shots.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t offer a specific reason for pulling Quick.
”No big deal, just something different,” Sutter said.
The Kings have scored one goal or no goals six times in their last 10 games. They are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL with 119 goals.
”It’s more of the same for us,” said Dustin Brown, who had an assist on Doughty’s goal. ”We’ve got to find ways to score more goals.”
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on Bergenheim’s goal. Marcel Goc brought the puck toward the net but lost control of it. The puck then glanced off the skate of a Kings player and back to Bergenheim. His slap shot from the high slot beat Quick on the glove side at 4:52.
”When I saw the loose puck, I just took a whack at it and it went in,” Bergenheim said. ”I was happy.”
The Panthers stretched their lead to 2-0 on Santorelli’s goal at 17:14. Quick blocked a shot by Santorelli and the puck bounced over the net. Tomas Fleischmann grabbed the loose puck behind the net and passed it out to Santorelli in the right circle. He one-timed it over Quick’s shoulder and into the net.
”I started off with a wrist shot from the wing there and Flash got the loose puck,” Santorelli said. ”I just kind of went and found an opening and he made a nice pass. Luckily it went in.”
Doughty scored for the Kings at 17:32 of the third. He took a pass from Brown from the sideboards and fired a wrist shot from the slot. The puck bounced past Clemmensen to make the score 2-1.
Bradley’s empty-net goal came at 19:12 to seal the win.
The Panthers rebounded from consecutive losses at Tampa Bay and Washington.
”It’s good to just come back and get a solid game in, not just personally but from a team standpoint as well,” Clemmensen said. ”Two tough road games for us, where we really got back on our heels. … Tonight we played great, from the defense on out.”
There weren’t many offensive chances for either team in the first two periods. Florida scored twice on 11 shots, while the Kings took just 14 shots.
Notes: Kings C Mike Richards played in his 500th career game. … Florida G Jose Theodore, sidelined with a knee injury since Dec. 31, was activated and backed up Clemmensen. … Florida D Keaton Ellerby played in his 100th career game.