SUNRISE, Fla. -- Forward Brandon Pirri continued to find the back of the net, helping the Florida Panthers get an important victory against the Los Angeles Kings.
Pirri broke a 2-2 tie with 3:05 remaining in the third period and the Panthers defeated the Kings 3-2 at BB&T?Center on Thursday.
Pirri scored for the fourth consecutive game and the sixth time in seven games since he was a healthy scratch for three consecutive games, when he beat Jonathan Quick with a low wrist shot to short side.
"Things are going good right now,"???Pirri said. "[I'm] just trying to not overthink and shoot pucks because when they're going in, they’re going in. You just try to ride that as long as possible."
Pirri is tied for third on the Panthers with nine goals; he has played in 26 games.
"There's a reason why he's proved himself,"???said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad, who scored his career-high and team-leading 17th goal earlier in the third period. "He had a lot of goals in the AHL, I???think. He's got one of the better shots on the team, if not the best. He's getting shots on net, odds are they're going to go in. That was a great short-side goal and led us to victory. It was good."
Roberto Luongo made 29 saves to snap a personal eight-game losing streak (0-6-2)???against the Kings that included two games after returning to the Panthers last March and two games in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs when he was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
Luongo hadn’t beaten Los Angeles since a 1-0 shutout March 26, 2012 in Vancouver.
"I???don't know what the stat is with that, but it doesn't really matter what’s happened in the past,"???Luongo said. "It's all about the game ahead of us here. For me personally, it's all about trying to give the team a chance to win. I???haven't been pleased with myself over the last few weeks. I???want to make sure I???gave a good effort and gave the team a chance and the boys rewarded me tonight."
Aleksander Barkov had the other goal for the Panthers, who have won two in a row after losing seven of their previous eight games.
Florida (23-17-10) is in ninth place in the Eastern Conference standings, six points behind the Washington Capitals and five behind the Boston Bruins, with two games in hand on the Capitals and one on the Bruins.
"We needed these two points,"???Pirri said. "We've got to string something together here if we're going to make a push. There's a couple of opportunities there that I'd like back earlier in the game, but I'm just happy to contribute."
Defenseman Jamie McBain, who returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the previous nine games, and forward Marian Gaborik scored for Los Angeles.
The Kings (21-18-12) have won twice in their past 12 games (2-6-4).
Los Angeles has lost four straight games on the road, including the first three of this five-game trip. They finish with games against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday and the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday. The Kings have five road victories, tied with the Edmonton Oilers and Buffalo Sabres for fewest in the NHL.
Quick, who entered with a 5-1-0 record, a 1.74 goals-against average and .939 save percentage against Florida, made 17 saves in his eighth consecutive start.
"I could have stopped both of [the Panthers' final two goals],"???Quick said. "Those are my fault. I should have stopped both of them. They were right in front."
Asked about the game and the current road trip, Quick had a two-word answer.
"Zero points," he said.
Florida managed a split of the season series; Los Angeles won 5-2 at home Nov. 18.
Florida played without captain Willie Mitchell, who missed the game because of an upper-body injury, and was without defenseman Erik Gudbranson for the first 15 minutes of the first period.
Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said after the game that something got in Gudbranson’s eye shortly before the opening faceoff and it took trainers a while to get it out.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the third period before Gaborik gave the Kings a 2-1 lead with a power-play goal at 2:19. He scored eight seconds into an interference penalty after Luongo stopped defenseman Jake Muzzin's slap shot from the point. Anze Kopitar got the rebound near the crease with his back to the net and slipped a back pass to Gaborik.
Bjugstad tied it at 7:26 after taking advantage of a mistake by Muzzin. Bjugstad stole Muzzin's no-look backhand pass in the Los Angeles zone, skated in alone on Quick and beat him after holding the puck and shooting a high forehand over the sprawled goalie.
"Got pretty fortunate,"?????????Bjugstad said. "I?????????don't know, it was just in the middle of the ice for me, kind of on a platter, and luckily I?????????put it in. I was towards the end of my shift. I?????????didn't really expect it, but I saw it there and started licking my lips. I had some time and had some net too. It was fun. And I'm glad Pirri put that in at the end. He's just a sniper. It's good having guys like that."
The Kings allowed the first goal for a seventh consecutive road game when Barkov opened the scoring at 10:39 of the first period. He scored on a 2-on-1 when he one-timed Brad Boyes’ backhand saucer pass and his shot went in off Quick's pads.
McBain tied it at 15:48 with his 100th NHL point. He beat Luongo with a slap shot from the top of the right circle that went in off the far post.
"At the end of the day it's all about winning, so individual achievements are nice but you want it to be part of a winning result,"?????????McBain said. "I'm not satisfied with the result.
"We were feeling good about our game as far as our power play contributing there in the third. A few bounces, they scored two quick ones, and we found ourselves behind again and couldn't claw our way back."