Ersberg, defense help Kings snap slide - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Ersberg, defense help Kings snap slide

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By John Reger

PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Florida Panthers have not been to

Staples Center in three years, but the Los Angeles Kings would

not mind if they visited more often.

The Kings used a strong defensive effort to end a five-game

losing streak and post a 3-2 victory against the Florida

Panthers on Thursday.

Entering with an 0-4-1 record in its previous five games and

without leading goal-scorer Cory Stillman due to a concussion,

Florida was anemic offensively, registering only six shots

through two periods. The Kings outshot the Panthers, 32-15,

overall.

"Six shots through two periods is not enough," Panthers coach

Peter DeBoer said. "You have to win puck battles and get your

nose dirty, and we don't have a lot of guys that want to do

that.

"I don't know if it's the effort is not there. We aren't

playing with a lot of confidence, but you have to work for that.

They know how to play."

Backup goaltender Erik Ersberg might be shedding that title

soon. The Swede came up with his second straight strong

performance, turning aside 13 shots. On Tuesday, Ersberg shut

out the Anaheim Ducks for 60 minutes before losing in overtime

in his first start of the season.

"That's what we're looking for, somebody to step up in that

position," Kings coach Terry Murray said of Ersberg. "Whoever

the team is playing, they need to take the other part on their

shoulders and shut the door. (Ersberg) was pretty good, even

with the few shots he had. He played pretty good."

Against the Panthers, Ersberg did not see nearly as many shots

but still was solid in net, although he did make one mistake

early in the third period. Anthony Stewart lazily fired a shot

toward the net that managed to slip between the goalie's pads at

2:09, drawing the Panthers within 2-1.

"It's a very good feeling to get a win," Ersberg said. "It came

down to the end, though. It shouldn't have been that close, I

guess. The first goal was a bad goal by me. We got the two

points, and that's what matters."

Los Angeles gave Ersberg support early on, opening the scoring

with 3:33 left in the first period. Brian Boyle registered his

first goal of the season when he picked up a loose puck at the

bottom of the right faceoff circle and wristed it past netminder

Tomas Vokoun, who made 29 saves.

The Kings doubled their advantage on the power play just over

two minutes later.

After a tripping penalty was called on Florida blue-liner Bryan

McCabe, who was playing in his first game since the season

opener due to back spasms, Anze Kopitar drew two defenders

toward him before feathering a pass through the slot to

defenseman Tom Preissing for a one-timer that beat Vokoun to the

glove side.

"(My) back felt fine," McCabe said. "My timing is a little off,

but that will come. I missed a month of hockey, and it's not

going to come overnight, but I felt pretty good."

Los Angeles added an insurance goal midway through the third,

when captain Dustin Brown wristed a shot past Vokoun for a 3-1

bulge. However, the Panthers kept it close with a last-minute

surge.

"From top to bottom, we had a good game tonight. I think we

really supported each other in our defensive zone, which made it

easy," Brown said. "And then offensively, we kept the puck in

their zone. I think our offensive-zone play was really good

tonight and ate up a lot of the clock."

With teammate Jay Bouwmeester in the penalty box for hooking,

Nathan Horton beat Ersberg with a slap shot from the top of the

right faceoff circle, pulling Florida within one with 51 seconds

remaining. But the Kings held on to snap an 0-3-2 slide.

Despite the final score, DeBoer was very disappointed in his

team's performance.

"It's inexcusable. You'll have to ask the leadership group in

the room, and we're just not good enough - bottom line," DeBoer

said. "It's our job to make them do it, and we're at the point

in the season now where you have to earn your ice time or you're

not going to play. Unfortunately, there were too many guys to

sit tonight to use benching as a motivation to them."

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