Thursday, December 1, 2011
Kings 2-1 victory may have come at a cost
By Dan Arritt
LOS ANGELES -- The Kings held on for a 2-1 victory Thursday night against the Panthers to run their record to 6-0 against Florida since the lockout season, but the two points may have come at a hefty price.
The Kings leading goal scorer, center Mike Richards, did not play in the third period at Staples Center and was reportedly being evaluated after taking a shot to the head. He appeared to get hit up high by the shoulder of Florida left wing Sean Bergenheim late in the second period. He retaliated by slashing Bergenheim with his stick, resulting in a four-minute double-minor penalty for slashing and roughing.
Richards served the first 3:08 of the penalty, which continued until the end of the second period, but Trent Hunter took his place in the penalty box for the first 52 seconds of the third. Richards has a team-high 11 goals this season, including eight in the previous 10 games. The Kings are 11-2-2 in games that Richards records at least one point.
The Kings also lost veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell to a lower-body injury after he played just one shift in the opening period. Mitchell is a shut-down defenseman that’s considered a cornerstone of the team’s defensive efforts.
Fortunately for the Kings, forward Dustin Penner is close to returning from a hand injury and Alec Martinez from a shoulder injury.