LOS ANGELES – A wild second period drove the Kings to their second straight win Tuesday night, scoring four goals in the middle frame en route to a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers at STAPLES Center.
The Kings were introduced to a feisty Florida club, who was coming off of a 6-2 win Sunday in Anaheim, and wins in two of their previous three. The Panthers came out quick, registering 13 shots in what was a very evenly played first period.
It was the second period that split the teams apart, as the Kings swung away for 17 shots in the frame, scoring four goals.
Just under five minutes into the second, Matt Greene redirected home the Kings’ first goal of the evening, which was also his first goal of the season. It was a rare goal for Greene, and not just because it was his first one since October 19 of last season, but because of how he scored it.
Greene, while the Kings developed possession in Florida’s zone, snuck down toward the slot undetected. Brayden McNabb, with the puck atop the point, saw Greene available, and fired a slap shot that Greene easily tipped past Roberto Luongo.
“At first I didn’t even know it was Greeny because I didn’t know he had that in his repertoire,” Anze Kopitar said following the win. “But it was a great play. Great play from Brayden to see him, and obviously a great tip to get us on the board.”
Just over five minutes after Greene opened the scoring, Jeff Carter buried his seventh goal of the season. Dwight King found Carter with a pass from behind the net, and Carter, stationed in Florida’s slot, scored with a shot low to the blocker side.
For Carter, it was his first goal in four games. Jamie McBain, who tallied the secondary assist on Carter’s goal, notched his first point in a Kings uniform.
Marian Gaborik gave the Kings a 3-0 lead with just over five minutes to play in the second, slamming home a rebound amidst a scrum in Florida’s net, following up an Anze Kopitar shot.
Both goals from Carter and Gaborik came on the power play. It’s the second straight game the Kings have scored two power play goals, after breaking an 0-for-19 skid on the man-advantage.
With eight seconds to play in the middle frame, Robyn Regehr struck to give the Kings a 4-0 lead, hounding on a loose puck and firing a shot through traffic past Roberto Luongo low to the glove side. It was Regehr’s first goal of the season, and his first since February 26, 2014.
“It’s good to see Robyn and Greene score,” Darryl Sutter said following the win. “They don’t get much credit, and they can give you the blue collar every night. They are our two most consistent defensemen for sure. It’s always good to see them score.”
The Kings carried a 4-0 lead into the third, and Al Montoya was brought in to replace Roberto Luongo, who surrendered four goals on 25 shots. The Panthers didn’t make the final 20 minutes easy, though.
Jimmy Hayes got the Panthers on the board just over two minutes into the third, and Jussi Jokinen brought the score to 4-2 when he buried a loose puck off of a rebound that Jonathan Quick couldn’t smother.
Florida outshot the Kings 13-2 in the final period, but they couldn’t crawl any closer than a two-goal deficit.
Dustin Brown registered his third goal of the season, giving the Kings a 5-2 lead with just over three minutes to play in regulation. Brown, after receiving a pass low in Florida’s zone from Justin Williams, jammed a point-blank shot into Montoya’s pads that barely made it’s way over the goal-line.
Brown’s goal was the 199th of his NHL career.
Willie Mitchell, playing his first game against the Kings since he signed a two-year deal with the Panthers in July, recorded one hit, two blocked shots, and one takeaway in 22:27 minutes of action.
Mitchell received a standing ovation from the STAPLES Center crowd during the first period; he was a fixture on the Kings’ rosters that won two Stanley Cup championships.
“I think I was okay with it,” Mitchell said on dealing with his emotions in his return to Los Angeles. “I just tried to play a simple game and not do anything outside my element. My job is always the same. Try to slow down top players on the other team, and for the most part did okay.”
The Kings have now won each of their past six games against the Panthers at STAPLES Center. Florida hasn’t won a game in Los Angeles since November 27, 2002.
Brayden McNabb (2A), Anze Kopitar (2A), and Jeff Carter (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Jake Muzzin and Drew Doughty in shots taken (4), Jarret Stoll in hits (6), Drew Doughty in blocked shots (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (31:05). Jonathan Quick made 30 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 10-5-4. They’ll finish their four-game home stand Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes pay their only visit to STAPLES Center this season. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.