Jonathan Quick stopped 41 of 42 shots as the Los Angeles Kings handed the Florida Panthers a 2-1 loss. It was only the fifth game this season that Jose Theodore has not earned a point for the Panthers. Theodore stopped 24 of 26 shots for Florida.
The Kings came out strong, with defenseman Jack Johnson scoring his fifth goal of the season less than two minutes into the game with assists by Anze Kopitar and Matt Greene. The Panthers came back up the ice and Jason Garrison put a one-timer on net which was turned away by Jonathan Quick.
On the Kings ensuing possession, Garrison got back quickly enough to disrupt a possible scoring chance by forward Drew Doughty. After Sean Bergenheim put a hard shot on goal, Mike Weaver broke up a cross-ice pass by the Kings. When one of the Kings forwards accidentally put his stick in Theodore's face, Weaver quickly came to the netminder's defense. Bergenheim and Tomas Kopecky teamed up for several scoring chances in the first, but were turned away every time.
Sean Bergenheim was called for hooking on Dustin Brown halfway into the period, and the Cats killed the penalty easily, even generating an odd man rush led by Matthias, who hit Ed Jovanovski's stick in front of a wide open Los Angeles net, but Jovo could not get the shot off.
The fourth line showed up in force tonight, with Mark Cullen, Bracken Kearns and Tim Kennedy all showing a lot of moxie in the first, sustaining pressure and getting off two quick shots on goal in one shift.
After Jack Skille failed to connect on a wraparound, Mike Richards was called for hooking Cullen, putting the Panthers on their second power play of the night, but the Cats could not convert.
Drew Doughty was called for tripping Tomas Fleischmann just before the end of the first.
The Panthers outshot the Kings 13 to nine in the period, and were outhit 19 to four.
The Panthers opened the period on the power play but could not put the puck home. Theodore stuffed Jarret Stoll on a breakaway chance, and Doughty was called for high sticking Bergenheim at the 2:30 mark. Marco Sturm had a great opportunity, putting a move on Quick, but was slashed by Matt Greene on his way to the net. The Cats would enjoy a two man advantage for 35 seconds as a result.
Florida put the puck on the net seven times in the first five minutes of the period, but Quick was fantastic all night for Los Angeles, stopping every power play shot the Panthers could muster up.
Bracken Kearns and Colin Fraser got into a fight at the halfway point of the game, and both were assessed a five minute penalty. Florida was controlling play throughout the period, but the Kings seemingly put it out of reach on a power play resulting from a Mike Santorelli goaltender interference. Dustin Brown scored his fifth goal of the season on a breakaway chance with assists from Slava Voynov and Quick.
Just over a minute later the Cats got back within one as Kopecky and Erik Gudbranson set up Bergenheim for his third goal of the season. Bergenheim was loosing his feet as he swept the puck into the net. Gudbranson's assist was his first ever NHL point.
Soon after, a dirty check by the Kings Mike Richards led to an altercation with Bergenheim. Stoll and Bergenheim were awarded offsetting minors for roughing while Richards served a four minute double minor that bridged the second and third periods.
Florida put 16 shots on goal in the period to only seven by the Kings, and were again outhit by Los Angeles, nine to five.
After the Florida power play ended fruitlessly, Dustin Brown put it off the crossbar behind Theodore. Matthias led yet another odd-man rush but was stopped by Quick with a chest pad save. Fleischmann and Kopecky had another chance, and the fourth line nearly tied the game when Mark Cullen hit a wide open Bracken Kearns in front of the net, but Kearns could not close the deal.
Just after midway through the period, the Kings and the Panthers skated from end to end without stoppage in play for almost seven minutes. Both teams showed complete disregard for their physical health, putting themselves in harms way, skating all out the whole time.
Jovanovski was pickpocketed skating out of his zone, and the Kings almost made him pay, getting two quick shots on goal, but Theodore was equal to the task.
The Cats pulled Theodore with just over one minute to play, and the Cats got a lot of decent chances as the clock wound down, but the game ended with the Kings on top, 2-1.
The Panthers played really well tonight, and against a lesser goaltender would surely have won. Jonathan Quick, however, had an even better night.
Marco Sturm looked strong, creative, and faster than we have seen him in the past.
Tomas Kopecky plays much bigger than his listed 6'3", 203. Opponents sometimes seem to bounce off of him, and even though he may be the slowest guy on the ice he somehow seems to get right in the middle of everything.
Jovanovski looked out of his depth at times tonight, missing on a wide open shot and later getting the puck stolen easily away from him as he leisurely skated up the ice. Nobody wants Jovocop to succeed more than I do, but too many times this season he is making what would be considered rookie mistakes on a younger player.
Fleischmann is one of the best stickhandlers in the NHL right now.
Sean Matthias is a gamer, he was in the thick of it all night. Is he just a little faster than everybody else out there? Yes he is.
The fourth line seemed like they wanted to stay in the NHL a little longer. Kearns, Kennedy and Cullen were aggressive on the puck all game long.
Sean Bergenheim had seven shots on goal to lead all players.
In spite of their loss, the Panthers can walk away from this one with their heads held high. They were lights out all game long. They just ran into the wrong goaltender at the wrong time.
The Panthers will visit the San Jose Sharks for a game on Saturday.
The Kings outhit the Panthers 45 to 18.