By Bill Whitehead
SUNRISE, Fla. – Maddeningly, the Florida Panthers still can’t solve the riddle that is Los Angeles Kings backup goaltender Ben Scrivens.
Making his first start of the season for his new team, Scrivens stopped 20 shots in his third career shutout as the Kings prevented the Panthers from getting back to .500 and recorded their first win in regulation, beating Florida 3-0 at BB&T Center on Sunday afternoon.
After a scoreless first period, Los Angeles (4-2-0) received goals from Daniel Carcillo and Justin Williams in a 6-minute span that essentially put Florida (2-4-0) away and kept them from capitalizing on any momentum gained from Friday’s energetic 6-3 home-opening win over Pittsburgh.
Carcillo’s goal was his first this season and came after taking a pass from Mike Richards, who was camped behind Florida goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Williams scored on a give-and-go pass from Anze Kopitar after a turnover by Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell — the 500th career point for Williams.
Perhaps most disappointing was Florida’s effort level and lack of chemistry, especially on the offensive end, which more resembled Thursday’s 7-2 loss in Tampa than the victory against the Penguins the next night. The Panthers played a solid first period against Los Angeles, the Stanley Cup champions over New Jersey two years ago, but came up empty with listless play and token effort in the final 40 minutes.
“In every game we’ve played this year we’ve gotten off to a good start. That hasn’t been an issue. It just has to do with the level of consistency in our competitive battles,” said Florida coach Kevin Dineen.
Florida leading goal scorer Brad Boyes faced the Kings in the Western Conference while with the St. Louis Blues. He said the Panthers missed scoring opportunities early, which played into Los Angeles’ style that makes it tough for opponents to play from behind.
“We did have a few opportunities. We had a couple of looks, but you’ve got to score on those. It’s a momentum shift and a difference. Because if you don’t, they don’t give up a ton. We got caught up in that and didn’t get ahead when a few opportunities were there,” Boyes said.
Added Kris Versteeg: “They’re a team that plays a pretty well-rounded game. Just obviously a few bounces here and there and they score, and we couldn’t capitalize on our chances.”
The 27-year-old Scrivens, the backup to stellar Los Angeles netminder Jonathan Quick, was acquired from Toronto in the offseason when the Kings sent highly sought after reserve goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs on June 23. Scrivens was 7-9-0 last year, including blanking Florida 3-0 on Feb. 18 and beating them again a month later as Toronto won both games in South Florida.
Florida took a few chances in the last period to score, but Jordan Nolan slipped behind Jonathan Huberdeau and scored his first goal of the season on a pass from Jarret Stoll from the half boards for a 3-0 lead.
Both clubs are back in action Tuesday. Los Angeles plays at Tampa Bay while the Panthers head to Nashville to face the Predators — their fourth Western Conference opponent in seven games.