MIAMI (AP) — Los Angeles and Florida have struggled lately, and while the Panthers ended a three-game trip with an encouraging performance , the Kings’ chances of defending the Stanley Cup appear to be slipping away.
The Kings seek their second win in 10 road contests when they continue a five-game trip Thursday night against Florida.
Los Angeles (21-17-12) has given up 11 power-play goals on 34 chances during a 2-5-4 stretch, falling from fifth in the Western Conference to a three-way tie for 10th. The Kings, in fifth place in the Pacific Division, haven’t missed the postseason since 2008-09.
“It’s gut-check time,” defenseman Matt Greene said. “It’s a sprint to the end and we’ve got to gain ground here.”
Jonathan Quick is 1-5-3 with a 3.42 goals-against average over his last 10 games despite facing an average of 23.3 shots. He had gone 16-9-7 with a 2.27 GAA in his previous 32 starts while facing 28.3 per game.
Quick can’t be entirely blamed for the recent slide, however, as the Kings are averaging 1.7 goals over the last six games. Top goal scorer Marian Gaborik has none in that stretch after scoring in three straight.
Justin Williams, tied for third on the club with 13 goals, doesn’t have a point in the same span. Tyler Toffoli, who also has 13 goals, has scored once in his last seven.
The trio was a combined minus-2 in a 4-0 loss to Washington on Tuesday as Los Angeles fell to 1-6-2 in its last nine away from home.
“We’re a good team but it’s hard to win when you don’t play with enough emotion,” captain Dustin Brown said. “We need everyone to be invested in the game emotionally. From there we can work on the X’s and O’s. But the emotion has got to be there.”
Gaborik has scored in four of his last seven games against the Panthers and had one of Los Angeles’ three power-play goals on six opportunities in a 5-2 win Nov. 18, the Kings’ 10th victory in 11 meetings.
Florida (22-17-10), opening a three-game homestand, had lost seven of eight prior to Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the Islanders.
Jimmy Hayes scored his second goal of the game on a third-period power play to break a 2-all tie and Brandon Pirri added an empty-netter with 23 seconds remaining. The Panthers were outscored 3-0 in the final period of a 6-3 loss to the Rangers a night earlier.
“We needed to come in here and get that big W,” said Hayes, who had a goal and assist in the first meeting with Los Angeles. “We’ve still got to keep rattling off these wins and stay in this playoff picture and be successful at the end.”
Hayes, second on the team with 15 goals, had gone a season-worst seven games without scoring.
Al Montoya stopped 32 shots after giving up four-plus goals in each of his last three starts. Starter Roberto Luongo figures to get the nod, though he’s 0-6-2 with a 3.59 GAA in his last eight starts against the Kings, including a pair of losses in the first round of the 2012 playoffs while with Vancouver.
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