First goal could be extra important

Getting the first goal is always — and increasingly — important in the NHL, but it could be particularly important tonight for the Kings and the Florida Panthers. The Kings have a 19-4-5 record when they score the first goal, but the Panthers are 17-1-6 when they score first. The interesting thing is, neither team is particularly strong in the first period. The Kings have allowed seven more first-period goals than they have scored, while the Panthers have allowed nine more than they have scored. The Kings, on a basic level, will try to do what they did against Tampa Bay, which was to score an early goal, then take a two-goal lead into the third period and play smart. Against the Lightning, the Kings didn’t go into a shell late in the game, when they had the lead, and that’s the type of attitude that Darryl Sutter is trying to push…

SUTTER: “We’re trying to get them to keep pushing. Keep pushing and trying to get another opportunity, without making a bad read. Keep pushing, and don’t play a sit-back (game). Hey, the way the game is now, it’s so important to get the first goal. If you’re coming from behind, you’ve got to change everything. When you’ll got the lead, you’re just trying to improve on what you’re doing, not change it. When you play so many close games, it’s like I tell the players, it’s a tough way to play but that’s how we’ve got to play. It’s simple. When you’re not scoring a lot, you can’t give up a lot, and you’ve got to make sure you take advantage of your opportunities.’’

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