Vilardi, Kings strike late to knock off Panthers 5-4
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gabe Vilardi scored late in the third period and the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Florida Panthers 5-4 on Saturday night.
Trevor Moore and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, Rasmus Kupari and Blake Lizotte also scored and the Kings won for the third time in five games. Jonathan Quick made 34 saves.
“I think we have an attacking mindset with the puck, which is good,” Los Angeles defenseman Matt Roy said. “I think guys want to score more, and I think we’re trying to find more ways to score.”
Carter Verhaeghe scored twice, Ryan Lomberg and Eetu Luostarinen each had a goal and the Panthers lost in regulation for the fourth time in their past six games. Sergei Bobrovsky, who played in his 600th career game, allowed five goals on 39 shots.
“There’s defensive breakdowns that happened,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said. “I’m not going to pick on anybody for tonight. We gave up five, and that’s too big a number.”
Vilardi scored on a sharp-angle shot with 3:18 remaining, picking up his ninth goal and second game-winner of the season.
“You can’t play your best every night, it’s impossible, so what do you have in you in your `B’ game? And Gabe had a good enough ‘B’ game to be effective for us,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
Luostarinen tied it 3-all just 18 seconds into the third period before Lizotte put the Kings back ahead with his second look on a breakaway at 2:40.
Verhaeghe then tied it 4-all at 5:04 for his third multi-goal game.
“We battled good, but I think we just have to be better in the third periods. It’s been slipping lately, so we just have to be a little better at the end of games,” Luostarinen said.
SCORE SOME MORE
Los Angeles has scored at least four goals in five of its past seven games, a pleasant run for a team that had trouble creating offense in recent seasons. The Kings have won four of those five, but McLellan recognizes the need to tighten up defensively going forward.
“Are we going to be a high-event team every night? We better keep scoring five,” he said.
The action picked up in the second period with three goals in 52 seconds, with tallies by Kupari and Moore sandwiched around Verhaeghe’s centering pass that went in off Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson. It was the quickest three-goal sequence in the NHL this season.
STILL A PAIN
Matthew Tkachuk was public enemy No. 1 to the Kings and their fans when he played for Calgary, and he retained that status in his one visit to downtown Los Angeles this season. He poked Quick in the eye with 39 seconds remaining, but the goalie was able to finish the game. Several Kings players questioned Tkachuk’s intentions.
“Hopefully the league takes a look at it, but it’s a dirty play,” Roy said.
That sequence came after Tkachuk had a goal waived off with 2:11 left in the second for making contact with Quick’s head. Maurice unsuccessfully challenged, and Arvidsson scored on the subsequent power play.
NOTES: Maurice said Panthers F Anton Lundell seemed to be fine after blocking a shot by Drew Doughty with his right knee. … Kings C Anze Kopitar had two assists, including his 280th career power-play assist. He ranks third among active players in power-play helpers after passing Evgeni Malkin. … Panthers F Patric Hornqvist is day-to-day after sustaining an upper-body injury against San Jose on Thursday. … Kings F Quinton Byfield participated in a morning skate but missed his fifth straight game.
Panthers: Play at the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday to complete the Southern California back-to-back.
Kings: Host the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.
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