NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, March 22nd (All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (26-36-8) at Los Angeles Kings (39-25-6), 4 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Los Angeles Kings will try to close out a five-game homestand at Staples Center with a second straight win when they host the Florida Panthers in Saturday's matinee.
The Kings carried an eight-game winning streak into the homestand, but dropped the first three games of the residency in regulation. However, Los Angeles was able to end the slide on Thursday with a shootout win over Washington and will try to cap the homestand with another victory this afternoon.
Thursday's close win was a much-needed one for the Kings, who are five points ahead of Phoenix for third place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes, who host Boston on Saturday, are currently holding the last of the Western Conference's two wild card spots, while Los Angeles occupies the third of the division's three automatic bids to the playoffs.
L.A. improved to 20-13-3 as the host this season thanks to its 2-1 victory over the Capitals. Marian Gaborik scored the winner in the third round of the shootout, burying a wrister over the glove of Jaroslav Halak. Jonathan Quick sealed the win for the Kings by stopping Nicklas Backstrom.
Anze Kopitar scored the only goal of regulation for the Kings. Quick stopped 21 shots for the 171st win of his career, tying Rogie Vachon for most wins by a goaltender in franchise history.
"To be honest, I did not know I was that close until a couple games ago and somebody brought it up," said Quick. "It's special and obviously wins are a team effort, so I think that makes it a little more special and enjoyable because it is 20 guys contributing toward the win."
Quick expects to get a chance to break Vachon's club record on Saturday. The 28-year-old is 3-1-0 with a 2.13 goals against average and a .926 save percentage in four career games against Florida.
Los Angeles recorded a 3-0 win at Florida on Oct. 13, giving the Kings their eighth victory in the past nine meetings in this series. The Panthers also have dropped four in a row and five of their last six tests in the City of Angels.
Florida is just 13-21-3 as the visiting club this season and has lost three of four and eight of its last 10 road games. The Panthers began their current four-game road trip with Tuesday's surprising win in San Jose, but then lost two nights later in Phoenix.
The Panthers lost 2-1 in the desert, with Scott Gomez providing the lone score for Florida with 4:07 left in regulation. Roberto Luongo made 20 saves for Florida after turning aside 52-of-54 shots in Tuesday's 3-2 win over the Sharks.
Luongo is 14-11-5 with a 2.32 GAA and .919 save percentage over 30 career games against the Kings and expects to start on Saturday.
Panthers forward Sean Bergenheim expects to return to game action either today or in Sunday's game at Anaheim. Bergenheim, who has 14 goals and 10 assists in 50 games this season, has missed the last five games with a lower-body injury. Fellow forward Jesse Winchester is questionable for Saturday after sitting out the past six tilts with a lower-body issue.
03/22 10:36:20 ET