The Florida Panthers’ locker room was closed a few extra minutes following Thursday night’s lackluster 6-3 home loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Was it the coach bringing the heat? Or was it a players’ meeting?
“A little bit of both,” one said.
Interim coach Tom Rowe said he spoke to his team and basically said they need to forget it and move along with their season.
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As for the game film?
“It’s already being burned,” Rowe said.
The Kings finished off a four-game trip in style, as they held a 3-1 lead heading into the second and took a 6-1 advantage early in the same period.
The Panthers were coming off their NHL ‘bye week,’ a mandated break which didn’t seem to help Florida all too much, at least in the short term. The Panthers have 29 games left in their season.
The Kings now head off on their break, not returning until Feb. 16 against Arizona. Two days later, the Panthers visit Los Angeles.
“It wasn’t an ideal start after the break,” Vincent Trocheck said. “We didn’t play well, but you can’t blame it on anything; we weren’t ready.
“We came off the break feeling good. We just didn’t think about the extra preparation it would take to have the success we recently had. We just thought things would pick right back up.”
The Kings, outscored by 10 goals in their previous two losses, forced Rowe to pull his goalie not once but twice during the onslaught.
Even though Florida kicks off a five-game trip on Saturday afternoon in Nashville, there was little question the Panthers would face a practice day on Friday before flying west.
Los Angeles scored the first two goals within the first 8:16 before Jussi Jokinen made it a game by scoring at 12:04 of the first.
When Tyler Toffoli scored about three minutes later, Rowe replaced starter James Reimer with Roberto Luongo.
“It’s one of those goals, and it wasn’t pretty,” Rowe said. “Everyone knows it wasn’t pretty, and we’re going to move on. You can’t dwell on it. It was bad from the start until the end of it.”
Reimer found his way back onto the ice when the Kings scored three goals in the first 7:31 of the second period to take a 6-1 lead.
Luongo was then the one heading back to the bench.
Los Angeles scored its first three goals on eight shots against Reimer; it scored three on nine shots against Luongo.
Down 3-1, the Panthers gave up goals to Tanner Pearson and Dwight King in a span of just 21 seconds as the Kings broke things wide open.
Florida got goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Sasha Barkov, with 21.2 seconds left, long after the game had been competitive.
“I’m at a loss for words, to be quite honest,” Derek MacKenzie said. “I thought we had things going in the right direction, but it wasn’t good enough tonight.”