The Los Angeles Kings have to wait four days for the next opportunity to end their two-game losing streak, but nobody seems to be complaining.
The extra time at home gives the Kings a combination of rest, recreation and preparation heading into their matchup against the visiting Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Los Angeles took Sunday off following their 4-2 loss to the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, played in their annual charity golf tournament Monday and returned to the practice rink Tuesday and Wednesday.
“It’s great, you’ve got to take advantage of it while we can,” Kings forward Pierre-Luc Dubois said. “There’s months where we play 16 games and we’re playing every other night, so it’s early in the season, the bodies are still good for now, but we’ve got to take advantage of all the practice we can get, all the rest we can get.”
Despite the two-game losing streak (0-1-1), the Kings are off to a strong start, earning points in 11 of their first 14 games (8-3-3).
Los Angeles will face a Florida team that’s won five in a row but needed a late rally to beat the struggling San Jose Sharks 5-3 Tuesday in the opener of its three-game California trip.
After surrendering the first two goals of the third period to fall behind 3-2, the Panthers scored three straight to keep their winning streak intact. Five different players scored for Florida, including the 100th NHL goal by Carter Verhaeghe.
The game didn’t get over until 10:15 p.m. PT, which might have felt like 1:15 a.m. for the Panthers.
“I mean, we got the win,” Verhaeghe said. “We stuck with it. It was sort of a low-energy game, it is tough traveling to the West Coast with the time change and everything, but there are no bad wins in the NHL.”
The hottest player for the Panthers is center Sam Reinhart, who has produced five straight multi-point games. He has 12 goals overall, tied for second in the NHL entering Wednesday.
“We know we can score at any time,” Florida center Kevin Stenlund said. “We’re confident. We’ve just got to keep working.”
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start in goal for Florida after Anthony Stolarz made 19 saves in the win against San Jose. Bobrovsky is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner but has struggled against the Kings in his career, owning a 3-9-2 record, .898 save percentage and 3.04 goals-against average.
In his past five games against the Kings, he’s 0-4-1 with an .891 save percentage.
Los Angeles will be looking for every advantage it can get against the Panthers, who are 4-1-1 in their past five road games.
The Kings, who are 0-1-2 in their past three home games, hope to take advantage of a month-long stretch in which they won’t travel any further than Las Vegas or Tempe, Ariz.
“The schedule is going to get busy soon and nobody feels bad (for) you in January or March, when you have 16 games,” Dubois said. “Everybody sees it as an opportunity.”
The Kings will likely start veteran Cam Talbot in goal. His .923 save percentage and 2.21 GAA are both better than his career averages of .914 and 2.64.
He’s 7-5 against the Panthers in his career with a .918 save percentage and 2.76 GAA.
–Field Level Media
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