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Panthers continue California trip with visit to L.A.

by John Kreiser /

PANTHERS (10-13-0) at KINGS (13-10-0)

TV -- NHL Network-Canada (HD); FS-Florida (HD); FS-West (HD)

Last 10 -- Florida 4-6-0; Los Angeles 3-7-0

Season series -- It's the only meeting of the season between two teams that don't see much of each other. The Kings have won the last five games, including a 4-3 shootout victory at Florida last Nov. 16. The Panthers haven't beaten the Kings since a 5-2 victory at Los Angeles on Nov. 27, 2002.

Big story -- Remember when the Kings were one of the NHL's best stories after a fast start that had them at the top of the Western Conference? They've cooled off rapidly and are just 13-10-0 after Monday's 2-0 loss at Anaheim -- their fourth consecutive loss and seventh in eight games. The Panthers come up the freeway after a 5-3 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Panthers -- Florida didn't get off to a good start on its weeklong trip to California. The Panthers spotted Anaheim a three-goal lead, and though they got within 3-2 and 4-3, Florida wound up on the short end after Bobby Ryan hit the empty net.

"We didn't play well enough to win the game," said forward Steve Bernier, who scored twice. "There are always some positives. We scored two goals on the power play. We need to focus on playing good 5-on-5 and play the same way on the power play. If we do that, we'll have a lot more chances to win."

Kings -- After concluding their drills at Wednesday's practice, the Kings skated slowly to one corner of the rink and held a players-only session that they hope will help them break out of their current funk.

"I think it's been a long time coming," defenseman Rob Scuderi told the Kings' website. "Usually, when you go through a slump, you just try to leave the guys alone and see if we can work ourselves out of it. It hasn't happened, win-loss wise, so we just wanted to reaffirm a couple things that I think everyone knows, deep down inside, but it's good to get them out in the air sometimes."

Who's hot -- Bernier returned from a fractured orbital bone on Wednesday and scored twice. … Despite losing his last three starts, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is still 11-5-0 with a 1.92 goals-against average.

Injury report -- Panthers forward Cory Stillman sat out Wednesday's game with back spasms. … Kings defenseman Matt Greene had a "maintenance day" on Tuesday, was at practice Wednesday and says he'll play. Forward Alex Ponikarovsky (broken finger) has been cleared to resume puck-handling drills, while defenseman Willie Mitchell (wrist) is skating and will have X-rays soon.

Stat pack -- The Panthers finally found a way to score on the power play. They had been 5-for-78 before scoring on both chances against the Ducks. They're still just 7-for-80 (8.8 percent), last in the League -- and probably shouldn't expect too much help from the Kings, who've killed off all 38 opposition power plays at the Staples Center. … Florida's 4-3 shootout win at Tampa Bay on Saturday marked the first time the Panthers had gone past regulation; they were the last team to end a game tied after 60 minutes.

Puck drop -- The Kings' slump has dropped them from first to 11th in the West, but Scuderi told the team's website that everyone has to remember it's still early in the season.

"As far as the standings go, we're not incredibly worried about it, but we're not really happy with it either," Scuderi said. "It is still early. We're still technically a winning team, but we certainly don't like the direction that we're headed. We're just trying to do some things to maybe lighten the attitude, lighten the atmosphere, and hopefully that leads to good things."

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