Florida Panthers at Los Angeles Kings game preview
The Florida Panthers have done well to put their offensive troubles behind them, scoring more goals in their last four games than they had all season.
They hope to translate that strong play into a victory when they square off with the defending champion Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Florida (6-4-5) has 17 goals in the last four games after scoring 16 times in the first 11. Following games of four, four and three goals, the Panthers opened a four-game road trip with a 6-2 win over Anaheim on Sunday.
"It was just one of those games where everything was clicking, and we were all working hard," said center Nick Bjugstad, who picked up two goals and two assists. "We knew what we were up against, and we were up to the challenge. That was exciting."
Brad Boyes also scored two goals, giving him four to lead the club along with Bjugstad.
The recent scoring surplus has given the Panthers wins against perennial contenders Anaheim and San Jose, as well as a point in a shootout loss to the surprising Islanders.
Los Angeles (9-5-4) presents another tough test for the Panthers, who have lost eight of the last nine in the series while getting outscored 32-14.
The Kings have found few things as consistent this season. Prior to dispatching the Pacific Division rival Ducks 3-2 in overtime Saturday, they had won only two of their previous nine.
"In any division game grabbing points is huge," right wing Tyler Toffoli told the Kings’ official website. "I think we needed to come back and have a big effort."
Toffoli scored his eighth goal, which also marked his NHL-best fourth short-handed score. The Kings are 6-1-1 when Toffoli scores.
Center Anze Kopitar has been equally impressive of late. He’s scored in three of the last four games after being held to three points through his first 11.
Kopitar’s emergence is a welcome boost for a Kings team that ranks near the bottom of the NHL with 2.44 goals per game.
"A lot of times our team doesn’t score the pretty goals," said center Jarret Stoll, who scored in overtime Saturday for his first goal. "We grind it out."
That grind-it-out style has worked in front of goaltender Jonathan Quick. Quick stopped 27 shots against Anaheim, marking the ninth time he’s allowed two or fewer goals.
Quick is 8-3-4 with a league-best .938 save percentage.
His counterpart Tuesday will likely be Roberto Luongo, who ceded the net to backup Al Montoya on Sunday. Luongo owns a 2.24 goals-against average in 12 starts.
Against Los Angeles, Luongo is 14-12-5 with a 2.38 GAA and has lost each of his last five matchups behind a 3.25 GAA.
Florida has lost five straight visits to Los Angeles and is 4-10-0 there all-time. Quick made 24 saves in a 4-0 win over Luongo at Staples Center on March 22, improving to 4-1-0 with a 1.69 GAA against the Panthers.