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Panthers' trip continues in L.A.

by Brian Compton /
PANTHERS (13-7-4) at KINGS (12-8-4)

: FS-Florida (HD), FS-West (HD)

Last 10: Florida 6-3-1; Los Angeles 6-3-1.

Season Series: This is the first of two meetings between the teams. They will meet again at the BankAtlantic Center on Feb. 9, 2012. They last faced each other on Dec. 2, 2010, when Anze Kopitar broke a 2-2 tie with just under three minutes left in regulation to lift the Kings to a 3-2 victory at the Staples Center.

Big Story: Florida's four-game road trip continues in Southern California after the first-place club moved five points ahead of Washington in the Southeast Division with Tuesday night's 3-1 win at Carolina. It was just the type of rebound Kevin Dineen was looking for after the Panthers opened the trip with a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay last Saturday.

Team Scope:

Panthers: Patience was indeed a virtue for Florida on Tuesday night, as they had to wait a long time before Shawn Matthias broke a 1-1 tie with just 3:19 to go. He added an empty-net goal to lift the Panthers to a 3-1 victory against the Hurricanes, spoiling Kirk Muller's debut as Carolina's coach.

"If I'm (a) player with a new coach, I'm going to come out with a ton of jump, and they did," said Dineen, who watched his team go more than 20 minutes between shots on goal. "That one was not our finest effort. It wasn't our worst effort. It was one of those games where you find a way and we found a way tonight."

Kings: Los Angeles avoided a three-game skid in impressive fashion Monday night, as Jonathan Quick stopped all 33 shots he faced to lead the Kings to a 2-0 victory against the San Jose Sharks at the Staples Center. It was Quick's League-leading fourth shutout in his 200th NHL game.

Quick was especially sharp in the second period, when the Sharks were awarded two power plays over the final 4 1/2 minutes.

"That was a critical moment there for sure," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "That's the part of the game they wait on -- the power play. They've got a group of guys that have been together for 10 years, and they know how to move the puck around. So we had to be good in those situations.

"You kill the penalties the best you can with your forwards. But when it comes down to it, your goaltender has to be good against the power play. And he was."

Who's Hot: Panthers forward Tomas Fleischmann is 3-2-5 over the last five games and 6-6-12 in the last 10. … Kopitar is averaging a point per game this season with 10 goals and 14 assists in 24 contests, while Mike Richards has 9 goals in his last 10 games.

Injury Report: For the Panthers, Mikael Samuelsson (lower body) hasn't played since being acquired from Vancouver on Oct. 22, but there is hope he could play Thursday. Florida is expected to be without Matt Bradley (upper body), Scottie Upshall (hip) and Marcel Goc (upper body), as well as Dmitry Kulikov, who was slashed by a skate in the right leg during the second period Tuesday's game. … Dustin Penner has missed eight straight games with a hand injury and is not expected to play Thursday night. Los Angeles will also be without Scott Parse (lower body) and Alec Martinez (upper body).

Stat Pack: Matthias has scored three of Florida's last four goals. … The Kings' penalty kill is 16-for-16 over the last four games.

Puck Drop: "I like the way we are starting to get going here. Our game has good pace, doing the right things, moving the puck quickly right now. So the group has been playing well, and it keeps getting pushed up, a little bit, to the next level with every game that goes by." -- Kings coach Terry Murray

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