Panthers look to shake off embarrassing loss in matchup vs. Kings

Panthers look to shake off embarrassing loss in matchup vs. Kings

The Florida Panthers, who are considered strong championship contenders, will try to shake off an embarrassing loss on Thursday night when they play host to the rebuilding Los Angeles Kings.Los Angeles has accomplished what Florida never has, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and again in 2014.Four Kings’ players from those two Cup teams are still on the roster: goalie Jonathan Quick, defenseman Drew Doughty and forwards Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown.But all of them are 30-something now, and the Kings enter Thursday outside a playoff position. Indeed, they have missed the postseason in five of the past seven seasons as they try to mix in a flood of young players with their core four.The Kings have driven their fans crazy this season with their inconsistency. Already this season, the Kings have had a six-game losing streak, followed immediately by a seven-game win streak, which was succeeded right away by a five-contest skid.On Thursday, the Kings will face a Panthers squad that leads the NHL with 14 home wins (14-2-0).But the Panthers were dominated 8-2 by the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night, just the third time this season that Florida had lost by more than one goal.The eight goals allowed are a season worst for the Panthers. On Nov. 9, they lost 7-3 to the New Jersey Devils, but that was on the road.”We haven’t really had one like this,” Panthers forward Sam Reinhart said. “But it’s a long season, and they’re going to come. It’s a matter of responding, getting our rest and coming back on Thursday.”Florida’s response will begin with Jonathan Huberdeau, who has 12 points including nine assists, in his past seven games. For the season, Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 22 assists and 32 points.The Panthers on Tuesday got back top-six forward Anthony Duclair, who had been out the previous eight games. But Florida is still missing top-four defenseman Gustav Forsling and captain Aleksander Barkov, who is one of the league’s best two-way forwards.At goalie, rookie Spencer Knight took all eight of those goals on Tuesday. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to be in net on Thursday.Bobrovsky has played at an All-Star level, going 12-2-2 with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.The Panthers will try to get their power play going on Thursday. They have just two goals in their past 14 man-advantage chances.

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