Kings’ special teams prove vital in win over Panthers

Jason Mowry-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson scored short-handed goals, leading the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-3 win over the host Florida Panthers on Friday night in Sunrise, Fla.

Entering Friday, Los Angeles had just two short-handed goals in its previous 50 games this season.

Florida, which entered the game with the best power play in the NHL since Jan. 1, went 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

The Kings, who have won three straight games — all on the road — also got goals from Anze Kopitar and Matt Roy (empty-netter).

Kings goalie Pheonix Copley, the 31-year-old long-time minor leaguer from the North Pole in Alaska, made a career-high 45 saves to earn the win. He is having a career year at 15-3-0.

The Panthers, who have lost three straight, got goals from Ryan Lomberg, Brandon Montour and Carter Verhaeghe. Montour extended his point streak to eight games, the longest run by a defenseman in Panthers history.

But Panthers center and captain Aleksander Barkov, named to the All-Star Game earlier in the day, had his nine-game points streak snapped.

Panthers third-string goalie Alex Lyon, who made 29 saves, suffered his third straight loss.

Florida got two forwards off the injured list as Eric Staal had missed three straight games and Sam Bennett had missed one. Staal had one assist on Friday.

Los Angeles opened the scoring with 13:25 elapsed in the first period as Quinton Byfield centered the puck to Kopitar, whose backhander got past Barkov and Lyon.

After Byfield was penalized for tripping Aaron Ekblad, the Kings took a 2-0 lead on Kempe’s short-handed tally with 2:02 left in the first. The Kings skated to a two-on-one rush, with Blake Lizotte’s pass leading to Kempe’s shot sailing in over Lyon’s glove.

Following a five-minute penalty on Alex Turcotte for boarding, the Kings made it 3-0 on Arvidsson’s short-handed marker with 10:02 remaining in the second. Mikey Anderson’s pass got through Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas, and Arvidsson’s soft shot tapped in off the left post.

The Panthers finished the second period with two straight goals to close their deficit to 3-2.

With 6:37 left, Lomberg scored on a rebound of a shot by Nick Cousins. The play was set up when Staal beat Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to the puck behind the Kings’ net.

Three minutes later, Montour – who had time to walk in — scored on a blast from the left circle.

Roy’s empty-netter with 1:02 left gave the Kings a 4-2 lead. Verhaeghe scored with 34 seconds remaining, but that wasn’t enough.

–Field Level Media

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