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LA Kings vs Florida Panthers Game 20 Recap: Young Guns Get it Done

All the guys (and Trevor Lewis) under 30 get it done for LA in an early afternoon matinee.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Los Angeles Kings Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings have finally managed to win a game. The losing streak was only four, but concern was starting to creep in.

Being that it’s a back-to-back situation for the Kings, Darcy Kuemper got the call and was fantastic in this game and really earned the shutout. He was certainly not helped out by his teammates in the opening frame as they allowed the Florida Panthers to put 14 shots on goal while managing a meager four themselves. But the Kings did score on their second shot. Alex Iafallo drew a penalty behind the net in the offensive zone when Aaron Ekblad got a little too cozy.

On the delayed penalty, John Stevens pulled Kuemper to get a 6v5 advantage. Tyler Toffoli was the extra attacker off the bench (much like he was in Boston) and got the goal (much like he did in Boston).

Iafallo and Dustin Brown were both excellent with puck protection along the boards. Brown passed the puck back to Doughty who sent a great little saucer pass to the front of the net where Iafallo was as Toffoli slid in from the side where no one picked him up.

Iafallo sadly didn’t get any points on the play, even though he did like 90% of the work.

The rest of the first period was pretty quiet for the Kings offensively.

Kuemper, however, stayed pretty busy.

What you didn’t see in the first gif were the two chances that he made in tight, first off the initial shot then off the rebound where he got a great push across before he flat out robbed Keith Yandle with about 30 seconds left in the first period. Kuemper had been low, hugging the post, clearly expecting a wrap around chance. He had to track and predict that the Panthers would try to get the puck out to an unmarked, slot-crashing Yandle to make that save.

The second period was probably one of LA’s best of the year. They didn’t score, but had a few good opportunities and held the Panthers to just three shots, limiting them to just one high danger scoring chance and generating four of their own.

Adrian Kempe had a pretty good game and setup one of LA’s best chances of the middle frame.

Yeah, that kid has some wheels.

Nic Dowd was whistled for high sticking early but the Kings killed it fairly easily, ceding only one shot on goal.

The third period started with LA clinging to a 1-0 lead. Jonny Brodzinski didn’t like that so he decided to double that lead. Jussi Jokinen gained the zone and started a cycle with Dowd, who passed the puck to Brodzinski. The recently recalled Minnesota native took the puck and just skated right down Main Street (or would that be Figueroa?) before roofing a gorgeous backhander over a heavily screened James Reimer. Even under pressure from two Panthers players, he never panicked, stayed patient and picked his shot. It was so beautiful.

It’s hard to tell who was more excited. Brodzinski, who couldn’t stop smiling, or Dowd.

Cats poured on the pressure, racking up six shots in the next four minutes. And then something kind of strange happened. The Panthers couldn’t get a shot on goal for the following seven minutes and then Andy Andreoff scored 90 seconds later. Yes, the same Andy Andreoff of a career high two goals.

Kings were cycling in the zone and somehow Andreoff found himself alone in front. Toffoli recognized this and passed him the puck. Andreoff just turned around and shot it five-hole. Reimer was just a tad impatient on this play, trying to square up the shooter and leaving himself vulnerable to a generally low-percentage play, but no one cares really how it goes in as long it does.

With three minutes left in the game, Florida pulled their goaltender. Nick Shore and Tanner Pearson got the puck out of their own zone and sprung Trevor Lewis on a breakaway, who showed some skill dangling the puck before putting it into the empty net.

The Cats did try to break the shutout but to no avail. What few shots Kuemper faced in the final few minutes, he was more than up to the task.

Stevens did something relatively interesting in this game. Most of the minutes were fairly spread out but he leaned more heavily on his “third” line, I guess you could call it, than the second line. The line of Shore, Lewis, and Pearson saw more ice time than Toffoli, Kempe, and Andreoff. Probably because of his two penalties, Dowd was the only player on either team to not hit double digits in ice time. This is possibly because it’s a back-to-back situation, but he didn’t scale back anyone’s minutes in the third period or start allotting more time once they got that second goal early.

Next up for the Kings: They finally get to face the Vegas Golden Knights, who are um, how should I put this.... not that good but extraordinarily lucky. Somehow they’ve managed to get wins off the back of Maxime Lagace, who is their fourth string goalie at best. Despite several losses since losing Marc Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban and then Oscar Dansk, they’ve also somehow remained second in the crap pile of the Pacific Division. Puck drops around 5 p.m. PST Sunday.