Ersberg, defense help Kings snap slide

By John Reger
PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) — The Florida Panthers have not been to
Staples Center in three years, but the Los Angeles Kings would
not mind if they visited more often.

The Kings used a strong defensive effort to end a five-game
losing streak and post a 3-2 victory against the Florida
Panthers on Thursday.

Entering with an 0-4-1 record in its previous five games and
without leading goal-scorer Cory Stillman due to a concussion,
Florida was anemic offensively, registering only six shots
through two periods. The Kings outshot the Panthers, 32-15,

“Six shots through two periods is not enough,” Panthers coach
Peter DeBoer said. “You have to win puck battles and get your
nose dirty, and we don’t have a lot of guys that want to do

“I don’t know if it’s the effort is not there. We aren’t
playing with a lot of confidence, but you have to work for that.
They know how to play.”

Backup goaltender Erik Ersberg might be shedding that title
soon. The Swede came up with his second straight strong
performance, turning aside 13 shots. On Tuesday, Ersberg shut
out the Anaheim Ducks for 60 minutes before losing in overtime
in his first start of the season.

“That’s what we’re looking for, somebody to step up in that
position,” Kings coach Terry Murray said of Ersberg. “Whoever
the team is playing, they need to take the other part on their
shoulders and shut the door. (Ersberg) was pretty good, even
with the few shots he had. He played pretty good.”

Against the Panthers, Ersberg did not see nearly as many shots
but still was solid in net, although he did make one mistake
early in the third period. Anthony Stewart lazily fired a shot
toward the net that managed to slip between the goalie’s pads at
2:09, drawing the Panthers within 2-1.

“It’s a very good feeling to get a win,” Ersberg said. “It came
down to the end, though. It shouldn’t have been that close, I
guess. The first goal was a bad goal by me. We got the two
points, and that’s what matters.”

Los Angeles gave Ersberg support early on, opening the scoring
with 3:33 left in the first period. Brian Boyle registered his
first goal of the season when he picked up a loose puck at the
bottom of the right faceoff circle and wristed it past netminder
Tomas Vokoun, who made 29 saves.

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The Kings doubled their advantage on the power play just over
two minutes later.

After a tripping penalty was called on Florida blue-liner Bryan
McCabe, who was playing in his first game since the season
opener due to back spasms, Anze Kopitar drew two defenders
toward him before feathering a pass through the slot to
defenseman Tom Preissing for a one-timer that beat Vokoun to the
glove side.

“(My) back felt fine,” McCabe said. “My timing is a little off,
but that will come. I missed a month of hockey, and it’s not
going to come overnight, but I felt pretty good.”

Los Angeles added an insurance goal midway through the third,
when captain Dustin Brown wristed a shot past Vokoun for a 3-1
bulge. However, the Panthers kept it close with a last-minute

“From top to bottom, we had a good game tonight. I think we
really supported each other in our defensive zone, which made it
easy,” Brown said. “And then offensively, we kept the puck in
their zone. I think our offensive-zone play was really good
tonight and ate up a lot of the clock.”

With teammate Jay Bouwmeester in the penalty box for hooking,
Nathan Horton beat Ersberg with a slap shot from the top of the
right faceoff circle, pulling Florida within one with 51 seconds
remaining. But the Kings held on to snap an 0-3-2 slide.

Despite the final score, DeBoer was very disappointed in his
team’s performance.

“It’s inexcusable. You’ll have to ask the leadership group in
the room, and we’re just not good enough – bottom line,” DeBoer
said. “It’s our job to make them do it, and we’re at the point
in the season now where you have to earn your ice time or you’re
not going to play. Unfortunately, there were too many guys to
sit tonight to use benching as a motivation to them.”