Thanks to an excellent November, the Florida Panthers flip the calendar as the leaders in the Southeast Division. If they want to stay hot in the year's final month, they'll have to record their first victory in Los Angeles in over nine years.
The Panthers try to snap a six-game slide to the Kings this evening in a matchup at the Staples Center.
Florida is coming off a 3-1 victory over Carolina on Tuesday, giving it a 4-1-1 mark over its past six games and a 7-3-3 record in November. Those 17 points were the second-most that Florida has ever posted in the month, while the seven wins is tied for second-best.
The Panthers, who lead the division by five points over the Capitals, spoiled the head coaching debut of the Hurricanes' Kirk Muller on Tuesday, getting a pair of goals from Shawn Matthias and one by Tomas Fleischmann.
Jose Theodore made 26 saves for the Panthers, who matched a season low with just two shots on net in the first period.
"If I'm (a) player with a new coach, I'm going to come out with a ton of jump, and they did," Florida coach Kevin Dineen said on Florida's website. "That one was not our finest effort. It wasn't our worst effort. It was one of those games where you find a way and we found a way tonight."
Florida has now split the first two of a four-game road trip and is tied for the most road wins in the NHL (8-5-0), but will likely be without Dmitry Kulikov for the rest of the swing after he suffered a lacerated right leg in Tuesday's win.
That will leave the Panthers a little shorthanded at the blueline as they try to beat the Kings for the first time since Nov. 27, 2002. They are 0-5-1 in six games in this series since, losing three straight in Los Angeles.
The Kings play host tonight looking to win a second straight game after posting a 2-0 shutout over the Sharks on Monday. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves for his NHL-leading fourth shutout. It was also the 18th of his career and came in his 200th game.
"We have a good vibe in this locker room right now," said Moreau. "Everyone knows to have success in this league you have to shoot the puck. We did that more tonight and it showed in the results."
The victory pushed the Kings above .500 at home this year (7-6-1) and they play the third of four straight at the Staples Center tonight.
Special teams have been both a blessing and a curse for the Kings as of late. While they killed off all five Sharks power plays on Monday to run their streak to 18 straight kills, they have just one goal in their last 19 chances on the man advantage.