Red-hot Florida faces off with Los Angeles

Red-hot Florida faces off with Los Angeles

Buoyed by the return of two key forwards, the Panthers have reeled off three consecutive victories. Can Los Angeles put an end to the spree tonight?

The two clubs are preparing to collide in the City of Angels, with a 10 p.m. ET opening draw at Staples Center. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives the Kings odds of -175 to come out on top. Conversely, Tom Rowe’s troops represent +155 underdogs.

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Florida found itself in the doldrums until Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov both rejoined the lineup two weeks ago. Now, though, the Panthers (26-20-10) sit just one point behind Toronto for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. They’ve even gone ­­­7-2-2 away from BT&T Center since Dec. 16.

On the flip side, Los Angeles (28-24-4) remains stuck in neutral. Darryl Sutter’s crew suffered a 5-3 defeat at the hands of Arizona on Thursday. While Tanner Pearson notched his second straight three-point game, the Kings couldn’t solve netminder Mike Smith.

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Fortunately, this evening’s hosts boast a 13-2-0 record vs. Florida dating back to the 2003-04 campaign. And, considering the uber-competitive nature of the West, Pearson & Co. need to start stringing together wins sooner rather than later. Expect that sense of urgency to kick in in a few hours.

SATURDAY NHL FREE PICK: PANTHERS/KINGS UNDER 5 GOALS

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