Panthers-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 30, 2011
The Florida Panthers capped off the second-best November in franchise history in not-so-impressive fashion. Given its history against the Los Angeles Kings, heading to Southern California might not be the best spot for Florida to begin December. The Southeast Division-leading Panthers try to snap a six-game losing streak in this matchup Thursday night when they face a Kings team looking to convert more opportunities in front of the net. Coming off a 5-1 loss at Tampa on Saturday, Florida (13-7-4) avoided a season high-tying third consecutive loss Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over Carolina. The win gave the Panthers 17 points in November, their most during that month since notching 21 in 1995. "It was one of those games where you find a way and we found a way tonight," first-year coach Kevin Dineen said. That hasn't been the case for the Panthers against the Kings (12-8-4), who have outscored Florida 22-10 since their last loss in this matchup in 2002. Los Angeles will look to continue that success following Monday's 2-0 home win over San Jose. Mike Richards scored for the ninth time in 10 games and Ethan Moreau snapped a 58-game goal drought as the Kings improved to 4-1-1 when they record at least 33 shots. They were outshot 65-51 while losing their previous two. "... That will be the message (in practice) - keep getting pucks in, keep putting it on net, go to the net and hang out in the blue paint and good things will happen," coach Terry Murray said. That's exactly what's happening for Richards, who has scored four of Los Angeles' nine goals in the last five games. The Kings, though, have received no goals from Simon Gagne, Justin Williams or captain Dustin Brown during that stretch. "That's his game - going to the top of the crease," Murray said of Richards, who had three goals with an assist in four games versus Florida in 2010-11 while with Philadelphia. "... It can be contagious. I'm happy to see some of those goals start to go in, because it will filter through the rest of the guys." Defensively, the Kings may have turned a corner over the last four games by fighting off all 16 penalties. They had allowed at least one power-play goal in each of the previous eight contests. "... (The penalty kill is) something that we've been great at the past couple of years and it's something we've been really putting a big focus on these past few games," Jonathan Quick said Monday after making 33 saves for his fourth shutout. The Panthers, 0 for 11 with the man advantage while losing three in a row in Los Angeles, went 1 for 2 on the power play Tuesday after failing in 10 opportunities in their previous two contests. Tomas Fleischmann scored that goal for Florida - his sixth in the last nine games. The veteran forward, though, doesn't have a point in four games versus Los Angeles. Florida's Jose Theodore is 4-0-1 with a 1.79 goals-against average in his last five starts after making 26 saves Tuesday. He's 6-5-0 with a 3.14 GAA in 13 appearances - 12 starts - against Los Angeles. Quick stopped 24 shots in a 3-2 home win over Florida last Dec. 2. The Panthers host the Kings on Feb. 9 as these clubs will play twice in a season for the first time since 2001-02.
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