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Florida Panthers Fall Short In Los Angeles

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Florida Panthers forward Evan Rodrigues reaches for the puck while under pressure from Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jordan Spence during the third period on Thursday night. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Florida Panthers could not get much going offensively against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday until it was too little, too late.

Florida had to claw its way back into things after falling into a two-goal hole headed into the third period.

They dominated puck possession and led 13-8 in shots in the third but only had one goal to show for it.

Florida’s five-game winning streak came to an end with a 2-1 loss.

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“It’s hard to play from behind, especially by a couple goals in the third period against that team,” captain Sasha Barkov said.

“It wasn’t our best effort today, but somehow found a way to get close. We’ll take only good things from this and learn to play when things aren’t going the right way.”

The Panthers played from behind all game.

Kevin Fiala quickly put the Kings ahead 1:20 in on Los Angeles’ first shot of the game.

Both teams had chances to grab ahold of the game — trading penalties throughout the first half — but it was the Kings who capitalized on the third go-around.

Fiala threaded a pass to Anze Kopitar, who barreled a one-timer past Sergei Bobrovsky with 8:07 to go in the second period to put the Kings up by two.

The Panthers, meanwhile, finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play.

“We had some zone time and some opportunities, it was just a matter of not capitalizing tonight,” Sam Reinhart said.

“It translated a lot from our 5-on-5 game, too. We tried to do too much from the perimeter. I think when it’s not going for you, you try to feel the puck a little bit more as opposed to simplifying. They got big bodies in front, so it’s easy to play on the perimeter.”

Florida finally got on the board with 7:15 to go after carving their way into the slot.

Barkov got the play going by driving into the net and getting a shot off. He then picked up the rebound and dumped the puck off to Carter Verhaeghe.

Verhaeghe found Reinhart, who unloaded a shot past Cam Talbot’s shoulder to end the shutout bid.

Reinhart also extended his point streak to six — and his goal streak to three with No. 13.

Reinhart, Barkov and Verhaeghe drove the offense at times, each playing over 23 minutes, while Florida’s other three lines could not get much going.

It ended up costing the Panthers as they continued to look for an equalizer.

“There are a lot of guys who didn’t play a lot of minutes. They should be able to drive the bus it’s just that somebody else has to do it,” coach Paul Maurice said.

Usually, that could be a big problem in the first half of a back-to-back, but the Panthers potentially have some reinforcements coming soon.

Star defensemen Brandon Montour and Aaron Ekblad could make their season debuts tonight in Anaheim.

”We might get a couple of players back that would excite the group,” Maurice said.

“You need a little jolt on back-to-backs and we have to keep our game as simple and as fast as we can.”

— Florida D Josh Mahura was hit hard along the boards by Danault with about 4 minutes remaining in the first.

Although Mahura returned briefly in the second period, he returned to the room with what looks like a shoulder injury.

“We’ll get him looked at tomorrow,’’ Maurice said. “We don’t think it’s too serious.”

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ ANAHEIM DUCKS 

  • When: Friday, 10 p.m.
  • Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL App
  • This Season: @Anaheim, Friday; @Florida, Jan. 15
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 21-14-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Monday vs. Edmonton, 7 p.m.

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