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game recap

Panthers lose to Kings despite four-point game by Huberdeau

Fail to keep pace in Atlantic Division race; Vilardi has goal, assist for L.A. in debut

by Dan Greenspan / Independent Correspondent

Vilardi's first NHL goal

FLA@LAK: Vilardi scores opening goal in NHL debut

Gabriel Vilardi wires home a wrist shot for his first career NHL goal in his debut to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the 1st period

  • 00:34 •

LOS ANGELES -- Gabriel Vilardi had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut for the Los Angeles Kings, a 5-4 win against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on Thursday.

Vilardi scored 10 seconds into his first shift to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 1:26 into the game. He passed the puck from behind the net to Martin Frk for a one-timer that put Los Angeles ahead 4-3 at 18:42 of the second period.

"There's no secret what is going on here," said Vilardi, a forward selected by Los Angeles with the No. 11 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. "They are trying to get younger, and hopefully I can be a part of that and help the team."


[WATCH: All Panthers vs. Kings highlights]


Anze Kopitar had two assists for the fourth straight game, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings (22-34-5), who played for the first time since trading defenseman Alec Martinez, a two-time Stanley Cup winner with Los Angeles, to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

The Panthers (32-23-6) fell two points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division. Toronto defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-0 on Thursday.

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and three assists, and Aleksander Barkov scored twice for Florida, which lost for the first time in four road games.

Video: FLA@LAK: Huberdeau rips short side wrist shot for PPG

Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves after making 35 in a 4-1 win at the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

"Obviously, they were good, scored some goals tonight and they got the rebounds," Huberdeau said. "But I think it's more on us. We scored some goals, but we have to be better."

Ben Hutton scored on the rebound of his own shot to give the Kings a 5-4 lead at 12:45 of the third period.

Video: FLA@LAK: Hutton nets own rebound for go-ahead goal

Florida's Mike Hoffman scored a power-play goal 36 seconds into the third to tie the game 4-4.

Vilardi scored on his first NHL shot when he beat Bobrovsky with a wrist shot from long range. The goal was set up by Kurtis MacDermid stealing the puck from Mark Pysyk in the neutral zone.

"Feels awesome," Vilardi said. "Feels great. First shift, I got pretty lucky."

Kings coach Todd McLellan said he was impressed by how calm Vilardi was in 15:10 of ice time, especially in the face-off circle, where he was 13 of 16 (81.3 percent).

"Sometimes, I think when a player starts his career out, he's just flying all over the place without any type of purpose," McLellan said. "Gabe had purpose in all of his shifts, and he did a good job."

Barkov tied it 1-1 at 7:03, and then put the Panthers up 2-1 at 8:43 with a wrist shot from the high slot.

Video: FLA@LAK: Barkov picks the corner on Quick

Florida took three penalties late in the first period that allowed Los Angeles to take momentum back when Doughty tied it 2-2 at 15:12 with a one-timer for his fifth power-play goal.

"I thought we were looking to cut some corners here and there," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "We took some discipline penalties, probably every one we got tonight, and deserved 'em all."

Huberdeau gave the Panthers a 3-2 lead when he scored a power-play goal at 3:19 of the second period, but Trevor Moore tied it 3-3 at 10:18 when he tipped Doughty's shot.

Video: FLA@LAK: Moore deflects home Doughty's shot


They said it

"We gave up five goals again. We need to do better defensively. This is a team that we could have beat, and we were there until the end." -- Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau

"They were all up on their feet. Really, first of all, they were excited he got called up. They know his story, they know his struggle to get back healthy, the work he has put in. To have him play tonight, everybody was excited for him. To have him score eight, 10 seconds in was remarkable, and it affected the bench." -- Kings coach Todd McLellan on their reaction to forward Gabriel Vilardi scoring in his NHL debut


Need to know

Kopitar's streak of four straight games with multiple assists is the longest by a Kings player since Wayne Gretzky had four straight Jan. 3-8, 1996. ... Huberdeau has three goals and five assists during a five-game point streak. ... Forward Tim Schaller was minus-1 with one shot on goal in 9:24 in his Kings debut. He was acquired Monday in a trade from the Vancouver Canucks along with forward Tyler Madden, a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2022 NHL Draft for forward Tyler Toffoli. ... The Panthers were 2-for-4 on the power play after going 0-for-19 in their previous seven games. The Kings went 1-for-5.


What's next

Panthers: At the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, FS-F, NHL.TV)

Kings: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, ALT, NHL.TV)

Video: Vilardi's two points pace Kings to 5-4 victory

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