The Los Angeles Kings continued to beat up on the Panthers on Monday night and knocked out Florida’s goalie in the process.
Al Montoya, making his first start in almost three weeks, left Monday’s 3-1 loss to the Kings after apparently being hit in the head while trying to stop Nick Shore from scoring.
Roberto Luongo came in to play facing a 1-0 deficit with 11:19 left in the period and made 20 saves in relief.
“All I know is he left the game,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said of Montoya. “They were driving the net trying to score and something caught him in the neck or the head. He was pretty sore, obviously couldn’t come back.”
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Monday’s loss was Florida’s third straight as the Panthers have won just three of 12 since beating Colorado on Oct. 27.
Florida remains within shouting distance of a playoff spot but needs to start winning fast.
“I’m not frustrated, we just need to figure out what the problem is and fix it,’’ Jaromir Jagr said. “We still have a lot of time, more than 60 games left, we just have to figure it out. I don’t know.’’
Said Gallant: “It’s disappointing.’’
Los Angeles opened the scoring when Tyler Toffoli one-timed a shot past Montoya.
A few minutes later, the Kings tried to make it 2-0 as Shore came down hard on Montoya with Nick Bjugstad in tow. Shore went down for the puck and slammed into a downed Montoya.
Montoya lay face-down on the ice for a few moments as team trainer Dave Zenobi raced onto the ice to assist him. After a few moments, Montoya got to his feet and gingerly skated off to the locker room.
While passing reporters on the way to the team parking lot, Montoya was asked if he was OK. “Yeah, yeah,” he replied.
Luongo came in and held down the fort as the Florida offense did little against the Kings (four shots in the first) until coming out hard in the second.
The Panthers tied it on Sasha Barkov’s third goal in as many games 5:07 into the period but the Kings answered and led 2-1 on Alec Martinez’s backhanded shot with 2:44 left.
Early in the third, the Kings took a two-goal lead when Marian Gaborik slipped a puck through Luongo’s skates.
The Kings have won nine of their past 11 against the Panthers and outscored Florida 7-2 in two wins this month.
“We didn’t play good in the first period, no question,’’ Jagr said. “But in the second we played good but didn’t score enough to get it done. One mistake we made in the second, and it’s 1-1. When they were better, they had the lead. When we were better, we didn’t.’’
▪ With one goal this season and just a single point in his past seven games, center Dave Bolland was a healthy scratch Monday.
Bolland, 29, signed a five-year deal with the Panthers in 2014 worth $5.5 million annually to be Florida’s primary third-line center.
Over the past two games, however, Bolland was dropped to the fourth line and had been moved to wing for a time.
“We’re going to give him a night off and see what comes of it,” Gallant said.