Johnson lifts Kings to shootout victory
Tuesday, 08.16.2011 / 5:16 AMJack Johnson
sparked the Los Angeles Kings
back from an early two-goal deficit Monday night. After they blew a lead of their own late in regulation and the game went into a shootout, the defenseman found himself in a familiar spot for success.
Johnson had the lone goal in the penalty-shot tiebreaker at the BankAtlantic Center as the Kings beat the Florida Panthers
, 4-3, prevailing in the shootout for the second game in a row.
Johnson, who has 12 goals in 142 NHL games, improved to 50 percent for his career (5-for-10) in the shootout when he beat Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun in the second round, slipping the puck just inside the left post after a series of forehand-to-backhand dekes.
''I just wanted to make sure we got the two points,'' Johnson said. ''In that situation, it's you against him (the goalie) and you want to make it count.''
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
made stops on Rostislav Olesz, Steven Reinprecht
and Cory Stillman. Los Angeles swept its two-game trip through the Sunshine State after winning 2-1 in Tampa Bay on Saturday thanks to an Anze Kopitar
''It could go either way (in the shootout),'' Quick said. ''You just try to make the stops and let the rest take care of itself.''
Victor Oreskovich forced overtime and earned a point for the Panthers when he scored his first NHL goal with 5:05 left in regulation. Oreskovich spent two seasons out of hockey before attempting a comeback this season with Florida, and was playing in his seventh NHL game.
"It's pretty exciting and the timing made it a little sweeter, I guess," Oreskovich said. "It's unfortunate we didn't get the two points, but getting one is better than nothing."
Nathan Horton and Stillman scored 1:35 apart early in the second period to stake the Panthers to a 2-0 lead, but Florida ultimately failed to extend a two-game winning streak built on the strength of shootout wins against Boston and the New York Islanders.
''Obviously, shootouts are a lottery,'' Vokoun said. ''They're fun to win, but they're not so much fun to lose. We came out on the short side today, but this game should have been won in regulation.''
Johnson started the Kings back when he scored midway through the second, then Jarret Stoll
and Randy Jones struck in the third to put them ahead. Johnson and Stoll had power-play tallies while Jones' go-ahead goal came shorthanded.
Los Angeles suffered a blow when it lost veteran forward Ryan Smyth to an upper-body injury in the third period. Smyth, who is second on the team to Kopitar in scoring, did not return.
Horton made it 1-0 when he cruised down the wing and wristed a shot over Quick's right shoulder for a power-play goal 2:05 into the second. Stillman followed by finishing off a 2-on-1 break with Reinprecht, who was sprung by a long lead pass from Dennis Seidenberg.
''Last year, we might have packed it in after being down 2-0,'' Quick said, ''but this year we have shown a lot of character.''
Instead, Johnson responded on a Kings power play at 9:10, beating Vokoun on a slap shot from just inside the blue line. Stoll made good on another advantage early in the third, scoring from the top of the right faceoff circle at 2:23 off a Kopitar feed. The assist gave Kopitar a League-leading 32 points.
Jones, playing in just his fourth game after being claimed off waivers from Philadelphia, recorded his second goal and fourth point at the 7:58 mark. With teammate Alexander Frolov in the box for goalie interference, Michal Handzus took a shot that Vokoun stopped but couldn't control the rebound. Jones pounced on it and notched the go-ahead goal.
"We got off, we were up by two goals, and we let them creep back into the game," Stillman said. "It's funny how things go -- they score two power-play goals and a shorthanded. And again, we go to overtime, we have a shootout, but we've got to learn to win games, especially when we have a lead going into the third period."
Material from wire services and team broadcast media was used in this report.