Preview: Panthers try to extend win streak to five games as Kings come to town
TV: FOX Sports Florida
TIME: Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m.
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Los Angeles Kings, who are tied for fifth in the NHL in road-win percentage, will skate into the BB&T Center on Friday night to face the red-hot Florida Panthers.
The Kings (29-19-5) are 15-10-2 on the road. Meanwhile, the Panthers (23-22-6) have won four games in a row, all with rookie goalie Harri Sateri between the pipes.
Sateri, 28, has started the past five games and has allowed just 10 goals during that span, stopping 156 of 166 shots. Only Jaroslav Halak of the New York Islanders has more NHL saves (162) since Jan. 21.
The Panthers on Thursday sent their other rookie goalie, 21-year-old Samuel Montembeault, to their Springfield Thunderbirds American Hockey League affiliate.
That clears the way for “1A starter” James Reimer to return to the active roster on Friday after being sidelined five games with a right leg injury. But don’t expect Reimer to start over Sateri, at least not now.
“I see him way more aggressive in his net than he was a week ago,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of Sateri, who is, ostensibly, Florida’s third-string goalie behind injured Roberto Luongo and Reimer.
“That comes with playing time and confidence. His rebound control is strong. There are not many times when opponents get a second shot from the slot area. He’s doing a great job of kicking shots into the corners, and that helps our defensemen.”
While Sateri shines in goal, Friday represents the start of a seven-game Kings road trip.
“This trip is huge,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez told the Orange County Register. “This is where true separation happens. We have a tough trip with a lot of tough opponents.”
Martinez, who has missed two consecutive games with a lower-body injury, is not expected to play Friday.
Kings center Jeff Carter, who suffered a lacerated left ankle in November, is due back this month but not in time for Friday. He has three points in six games this season.
Carter provided 32 goals and 66 points last season, and his absence has been felt. Even so, the Kings have played well lately, outscoring opponents 11-2 in their past two games.
The Kings also have two high-scoring defensemen in Drew Doughty (39 points) and Jake Muzzin (32).
Los Angeles is expected to go with starting goalie Jonathan Quick (20-18-2, 2.51 goals-against average, .919 save percentage). Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper (9-1-3, 1.98 GAA, .942 save percentage) started Wednesday in a 5-2 win.