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Florida Panthers Breakout, Break Down in Loss to Kings

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Matthew Tkachuk is wrapped up with Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick during the third period of Florida’s 5-4 loss on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

In what should have been a milestone night for Sergei Bobrovsky on Saturday night was one to forget for the Florida Panthers.

Save for the late scrum behind the net. That was pretty memorable.

The result? Not so much.

The Los Angeles Kings scored three goals in the second period with Gabe Vilardi giving  his team the final lead of the night with 3:18 remaining as they held on for a wild 5-4 win.

Bobrovsky was playing in his 600th NHL game — which is currently ranked 53rd on the NHL’s all-time games played list — and he certainly did not play bad despite the five goals allowed and taking the loss.

A number of factors played into Florida’s second loss in three games on this western trip, including defensive lapses and other mistakes.

The Panthers had the lead twice, but could not put the Kings away and it cost them.

”There are defensive breakdowns that happen,’’ Paul Maurice said. “We gave up five, and that’s too big a number.”

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The game had a slow start but was turned on its ear when three goals were scored (two by the Kings) within a span of a minute midway through the second.

There was some scrapping on the ice, especially late when Jonathan Quick and Matthew Tkachuk continued their old rivalry and got into it in the final second of the game — with Quick getting the better of Tkachuk at least when it counted.

Late in the second, Florida appeared to take a 3-2 lead but Brandon Montour’s long power play shot was waved off for goalie interference as Tkachuk grazed Quick outside the crease before the puck deflected off his body and went through.

Florida challenged the call on the ice.

After a long review, the official’s original call stuck and the goal was off and the Panthers were charged with a penalty.

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It was not much of an interference by any stretch.

“Video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that the actions of Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk impaired the ability of Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick to play his position,’’ the NHL wrote in its decision.

“The decision was made in accordance with Rule 69.4 which states, in part, that “if an attacking player initiates any contact with a goalkeeper, other than incidental contact, while the goalkeeper is outside his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.”

Florida argued Tkachuk did not skate into Quick but the veteran Los Angeles goalie did skate into Tkachuk as he was sliding through in front of the net.

The rulebook also states “incidental contact with a goalkeeper will be permitted, and resulting goals allowed, when such contact is initiated outside of the goal crease, provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such contact.”

The Panthers obviously felt Tkachuk did just.

Because the call was made on the ice, there did not appear to be enough to overturn that initial call.

”I thought our power play was good,” Maurice said. “The refs didn’t agree.”

The Kings scored the go-ahead goal on the ensuing power play and Florida went into the final period down a goal.

The third was another wild period of hockey with Florida tying the score 79 seconds in on a nice goal from Eetu Luostarinen before the Kings retook the lead a minute later.

Florida tied things again on Carter Verhaeghe’s second of the night — his first made it 1-0 — at 5:04 of the period.

Los Angeles took the lead late in the game and Florida pulled Bobrovsky 1:54 remaining and put on its patented all-out attack on Quick only Sasha Barkov hit a post and a Sam Reinhart shot from the slot in the final seconds got deflected and bounded away from an open net.

With a second left, Tkachuk and Quick got tangled up — with Tkachuk being called for goalie interference once again as well as being charged with a game misconduct.

Moments prior, Tkachuk appeared to reach his stick in while Quick is on the ice, hitting him in the mask.

The NHL may take a closer look at this one.

“It’s what he does. It makes him a good player, makes him a villain,’’ Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said afterward of Tkachuk.

“Do we like the poke in (Quick’s) facemask? Of course not. But it’s not anything we can deal with now. Other people will have to look at it.’’

Maurice was asked about the Kings being upset and it seemed like Maurice may not have seen exactly what they were talking about.

He was still smarting from losing the goal in the second.

”You know what? You could do a coaches’ challenge for that,’’ Maurice said with a smirk.

Florida wraps up its four-game trip tonight when they visit the Ducks — a team which has won three of four after snapping a seven-game slide.

Anaheim beat San Jose in a shootout on Saturday night.

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Gabe Vilardi, Los Angeles (game-winning goal)

2. Carter Verhaeghe, Florida (two goals)

3. Viktor Arvidsson, Los Angeles (goal, assist)

PANTHERS ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS AT ANAHEIM DUCKS

  • When: Sunday, 9 p.m.
  • Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida; NHL Network
  • Radio: WQAM 560-AM; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 20-14-2, 3 ties

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