Florida Panthers Survive Late Comeback, Beat Kings 4-3

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 16: Brian Boyle #9 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at the BB&T Center on January 16, 2020 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 16: Brian Boyle #9 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings at the BB&T Center on January 16, 2020 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Florida Panthers played comfortable hockey for a majority of Thursday Night, holding off an urgent comeback attempt with roughly 10 minutes to go for a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

The Florida Panthers end their first and final stretch of home games this month with a three game win streak after losing 5-2 to Arizona to open the trip. The Panthers have now scored at least four goals in every win this month.

This was a game Florida had supposed to win, against a below average Los Angeles team where the Cats had four days of rest following their eight-goal win versus Toronto. The Panthers would do exactly that. Joel Quenneville‘s team was more physical, they held the puck longer than LA, they were fantastic on the power play with their puck movement, and they got it done.

In every win this month, the Panthers have scored inside the first seven minutes, something that the Panthers struggled with immensely in the start of the season. While it took partially longer than normal last night, Florida got their early goal. Josh Brown would draw a holding penalty against Austin Wagner, and the Panthers’ top line would make it look too easy on the man advantage, with Jonathan Huberdeau setting up Evgenii Dadonov for the goal.

The goal was Dadonov’s 20th goal of the season and his career-high ninth power play goal. Aleksander Barkov got the secondary assist, moving him past Stephen Weiss for third all-time in franchise points. Barkov is just 25 behind Olli Jokinen for second all-time.

Just when things were looking easier for Florida, goalie Chris Driedger was forced to leave the game. Jeff Carter‘s centering feed stretched too far for Dustin Brown to reach, but Driedger also stretched out his right leg trying to make a save on the play. Driedger had also saved all four shots faced.

Driedger was already playing as an injured reserve for Florida, with starter Sergei Bobrovsky out with a day-to-day injury. Sam Montembeault came on in relief, getting his first action since late November.

After that, the Panthers would start to lose some of their puck possession going into the second period. To go along with that, the Florida Panthers would have to kill two penalties in the first half of the second period, but played very well, limiting LA to just one shot on goal in four minutes.

Florida would get their second goal in between the two penalties. Mike Hoffman lobbed a puck into the Kings’ zone, and Dominic Toninato was able out-skate three players to get to the puck, dropping it back for Frank Vatrano, who finished past Jack Campbell with a one-timer.

Vatrano’s 11th goal of the season meant back-to-back games with a goal for the first time this season. Vatrano is now up to 21 points across 46 games this season.

In the third period, Florida looked as though they had put the game to bed. After an early penalty against Matt Roy, Mike Matheson scored a power play goal for his fourth goal in the last nine games. Matheson’s 6th goal of the season was his first power play goal since February 1st, 2018 in Buffalo. It was Matheson’s first ever power play goal at home.

While it took a lot of time between the first three Cats goals, but the fourth would come just three minutes later. After a giveaway from Derek Forbort, Brian Boyle kept the puck in the attacking end, putting a quick wrist-shot past Campbell to surely seal the game, 4-0.

Not a lot of people watching this game would’ve expected it to end this close. The Kings would break an impressive showing by Montembeault by scoring three goals six minutes. Alex Iafallo got the Kings on the board, then quick penalties from both Boyle and Brown would lead to goals for Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar.

It was a strange development, the first two penalty kills from Florida were one of their best consecutive kills this season. Next, LA would score on two late goals to almost come back.

Ultimately, it was just too big of a mountain for the Kings to climb, and the Panthers held on to get their 25th win of the season. While the win didn’t get the Panthers into a playoff spot, they are now just one point behind Carolina and Columbus for a wild card spot, and two points behind Toronto for a division spot. The Panthers have two games in hand on Toronto and Columbus, with one game in hand on Carolina.

Next. Is Acciari's Goalscoring Sustainable?. dark

The Panthers are back in action to start a two-part six-game road trip on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. This is the first meeting between the two in Michigan, puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 P.M.