Kings add to short-handed Panthers' woes with 4-1 victory

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  • Florida Panthers
    Florida Panthers
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  • Los Angeles Kings
    Los Angeles Kings
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  • Sergei Bobrovsky
    Sergei Bobrovsky
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  • Dustin Brown
    Dustin Brown
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  • Olli Maatta
    Olli Maatta
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  • Anze Kopitar
    Anze Kopitar
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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown scored second-period goals and Jonathan Quick had 41 saves to help the Los Angeles Kings defeat the short-handed Florida Panthers 4-1 on Thursday night.

Olli Maatta scored for the first time in 75 games and Arthur Kaliyev added a third-period goal for the Kings, who improved to 3-0-1 in their last four games.

Matt Kiersted scored his first NHL goal and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 27 of 31 shots for the Panthers, who played with only 16 skaters, instead of the usual 18, because of a virus outbreak and injuries.

The Panthers had to recall four players from their AHL affiliate in Charlotte earlier Thursday to fill the roster. Forwards Grigori Denisenko and Cole Schwindt, along with defensemen Kiersted and Chase Priskie were brought in for the game. Schwindt made his NHL debut.

“The league goes on,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said.

Florida was without seven players because of COVID-19 protocols, including defenseman Aaron Ekblad and forward Frank Vatrano. They were ruled out Thursday, a day after it became clear the Panthers were in the midst of a virus outbreak.

The Panthers said Wednesday that five other players — Sam Bennett, Radko Gudas, Ryan Lomberg, Brandon Montour and Carter Verhaeghe — along with an unidentified member of the team’s travel party were in protocols and also unavailable for the game against the Kings.

But the situation clearly worsened either later Wednesday or early Thursday, with a number of players not on the ice for the team’s morning skate.

“It’s about everybody staying safe and being healthy,” Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. “It’s not easy seeing some guys go into protocol, but we have to play and have to be ready.”

It just wasn’t enough, and Florida went without getting a point for the third consecutive game — the first time such a slump has happened to the Panthers this season.

Kiersted opened the scoring at 14:56 of the first period. Jonathan Huberdeau, from the right circle, centered a pass to the onrushing Kiersted, who took the puck and fired a backhander past Quick.

It was all Kings from there. Maatta tied the score at 17:05 when his centering pass, intended for Trevor Moore, deflected off Weegar’s stick and into the net. It was Maatta’s first goal since Feb. 4. 2020, at Minnesota.

The Kings went ahead 2-1 at 3:27 of the second when Kopitar, streaking down the right side, took a pass from Sean Durzi and lifted a backhander past Bobrovsky. It was Kopitar’s ninth goal and his first in 14 games.

Brown battled defensemen MacKenzie Weegar and Kiersted to keep the puck as he crossed the blue line, skated in on Bobrovsky and made a backhand move to give Los Angeles a 3-1 advantage at 12:58 of the second period. It was Brown’s fourth goal.

Kaliyev took the puck along the boards just inside the blue line, skated to the middle and fired a wrist shot that beat Bobrovsky for his sixth goal at 7:02 of the third.

NOTES: To help accommodate all the roster shuffling and in part to keep Florida cap-compliant, goalie Spencer Knight — who gave up all eight goals in Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa — was loaned to Charlotte. ... The Kings are 12-5-4 in their last 21 games, the 1-5-1 start to their season clearly behind them. ... With Drew Doughty out, the Kings had forward Alex Iafallo serving as an assistant captain.

UP NEXT

Kings: Visit Carolina on Saturday.

Panthers: Visit Minnesota on Saturday.

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More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

The Associated Press

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