Brandon Pirri has scored some pretty goals in the past few weeks but none was as big as the one he got Thursday.
With just over three minutes left, Pirri corralled a puck left for him by Tomas Fleischmann, got in front of the Kings’ defender and beat Stanley Cup hero Jonathan Quick to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 win over Los Angeles.
Florida has won two in a row, and Pirri has goals in six of the past seven games.
The Kings, the NHL’s defending champs, are foundering as they sit outside the playoffs with losses in seven of eight.
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“Things are going good right now,’’ said Pirri, who earned the teammate-awarded hero jacket from West Point.
“You just try not to overthink it. Just shoot pucks because when they’re going in, they’re going in. You just try to ride this as long as possible.’’
The Panthers opened the scoring on an Aleksander Barkov one-timer midway through the first but found themselves down a goal in the third.
Florida tied the score when Los Angeles’ Jake Muzzin handed the puck to Nick Bjugstad deep in the Kings’ zone. Bjugstad, Florida’s leading goal scorer, knew what to do with it as he walked in on Quick and scored to tie it up.
“It was right there on a platter,’’ said Bjugstad, who added he was “licking his lips” when he picked off the puck.
Florida kept coming at Quick and the Kings but didn’t get its go-ahead marker until Fleischmann — a scratch of late who was made an alternate captain with captain Willie Mitchell out — led the charge up ice.
Pirri scored with 3:05 left, and goalie Roberto Luongo (29 saves) did the rest.
“We didn’t get a whole lot of offense in the second period, but we found a way in the third period,’’ coach Gerard Gallant said.
“[Pirri] got a good goal, he’s hot right now. He’s taking advantage of his opportunities.’’
Luongo hadn’t beaten the Kings in his previous eight tries.
“There’s no quit and that’s huge for a young team like this,’’ Luongo said. “No matter the score, we find a way to come back in it.’’
The Panthers brought up defenseman Steven Kampfer from the minors Wednesday after Mitchell was hurt Tuesday against the Islanders.
Kampfer, acquired in a trade with the Rangers before the season started, was playing in his first NHL game in almost three full years. Kampfer, who leads all San Antonio defensemen in scoring, hadn’t played in the NHL since March 2012.
“It was like my first game all over again,’’ Kampfer said during first intermission.
Gallant said Mitchell could miss the next two games with an undisclosed injury.
▪ Defenseman Erik Gudbranson missed a large chunk of the opening period after he got something in his eye between warmups and the national anthem.
▪ With the Panthers winning Tuesday, Gallant kept his lineup intact aside from switching out goalies, meaning Shawn Thornton and Sean Bergenheim missed their second consecutive games.