Thursday, December 1, 2011
Kings: Jack Johnson gives L.A. a 1-0 lead
By Dan Arritt
After the 1st period:
Kings 1, Florida Panthers 0
The good: Picking up where they left off, the Kings grabbed a 1-0 lead against the visiting Panthers, taking just 95 seconds to get on the board. Anze Kopitar missed a prime scoring chance off a rebound when he didn’t make good contact with the puck, but the Kings kept possession and the rubber made its way to defenseman Jack Johnson just above the left faceoff circle. He sent a quick wrist shot toward the goal and teammate Trent Hunter provided a good screen as the puck sailed into the net. It was Johnson’s first goal in the last 11 games, fifth overall and second at even strength. The Kings are bringing the wood against the Panthers, out-hitting the visitors, 19-4. Smooth-skating rookie defenseman Slava Voynov, believe it or not, leads the way with five body slams.
The bad: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell played one shift and did not return to the game. No word if it's an injury yet, but he did have two stints on injured reserve last season. Mitchell was coming off a forgetful seven-giveaway performance Monday night in the 2-0 victory against San Jose. If his absence is anything long term, good thing the Kings have Alec Martinez close to returning from a shoulder injury. For the rest of this game, however, that could place a large burden on the remaining blue liners. If fourth-line forward Kevin Westgarth doesn’t want to wait another 73 games between goals than he better bury the opportunities he has. Shortly after Johnson’s goal, Westgarth had a plum rebound come his way but flicked the puck over the open side of the net.
The in between: Florida leading scorer Kris Versteeg was scratched because of an upper-body injury, likely resulting from the elbow to the nose he took Tuesday night in Carolina. Versteeg has 12 goals and 14 assists in 24 games this season.