Kings win at home, defeating the Panthers, 2-1

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
The Kings won their second home game of the 2023-24 season.

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings struggled at home entering their game against the Florida Panthers. They were 1-3-3 at home while being a perfect 7-0-0 on the road. Such a poor home record was likely bound to improve, and it did on Thursday. All it took was a short break.

Before Thursday, the Kings were most recently in action on Saturday, losing to the Philadelphia Flyers for their second straight home loss. However, after the game, they reset with four days without a game. During the time off, they worked on special teams. Jaret Anderson-Dolan also replaced Alex Laferriere in the Kings’ lineup on the third line. 

Coming out of the four-day break, the Kings got on the board quickly and never looked back in a 2-1 win over the Panthers. 1:20 into the first period, Phillip Danault found Kevin Fiala, who scored on an odd-man rush, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead.

The Kings followed the goal with another in the second period. 13:53 into it, Anze Kopitar rifled a shot into the bottom corner of the net after Drew Doughty passed it to him in the center of the offensive zone. The goal came on the power play, an area the Kings converted on one of two times. 

Fiala led the team with two points (one goal and one assist). Multiple other Kings picked up a point. 

“I don’t know if he’s [Fiala] our leading scorer now, but he’s right up near the top,” said head coach Todd McLellan. “We’re 15 or 18% into the season. By the end of the year, he’s going to be way up there. We’re going to be really happy with his offensive output. But tonight, you saw the energy and the drive and the battles and the commitment. If we get that all the time, we got one hell of a player. And it’s there. He’s been a little bit frustrated. We’re trying to help him, but I was proud of him today. He made some real good plays and responded well.”

The penalty kill was also an area of strength for the Kings on Thursday. They held the Panthers scoreless in all five of their power plays. Helping such efforts was goaltender Cam Talbot, who made his 11th start in goal. He had been solid in most appearances and looked the same on Thursday. He made 27 saves and gave up one goal. Talbot leaves Crypto.com Arena on Thursday with an 8-3-1 record on the season. 

“It’s no secret we need to make this building a little tougher to play in,” Talbot said. “Tonight’s a good step in the right direction.” 

In a mostly clean night, one of the only misfortunes for the Kings on Thursday came late in the third period. Pierre-Luc Dubois hit his left leg against the goalpost in the third period, picking up an injury. He skated off the ice and went straight down the hallway. 

“I can’t give you one [an update on Dubois’ injury] right now,” McLellan said. “Just went back and took a look at him, and he’s getting checked out, so I might be able to give you a lot more tomorrow.”

After the win, the Kings stayed third in the Pacific Division, increasing their point total to 21. They are four points behind the second-place Vancouver Canucks and six points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights. Next, the Kings face the St. Louis Blues with an opportunity to pick up another home win.