Kings win, 3-2, on Kopitar's game-winner

The free fall has ended, for now.

Anze Kopitar slapped in a rebound with 2 minutes 43 seconds remaining Thursday night and the Kings held on to beat the Florida Panthers, 3-2, at Staples Center and end a skid that had dropped them from first in the Western Conference to last in the Pacific Division.

The Kings had lost four straight and seven of eight coming in.

The winning goal was set up when Kings center Michal Handzus lost a face-off, but got the puck back with a hard forecheck in the right-wing corner. He passed out to Dustin Brown, who hammed a slap shot at the Florida goal. It deflected out to Kopitar who tucked it into the net for his ninth goal of the season.

The Kings tied the score, 2-2, at the 2:36 mark of the third period. Kyle Clifford cut to the net with the puck on his stick and, just before he got off a shot, it was poked out front by Florida defenseman Bryan McCabe.

Kings defenseman Peter Harrold, playing just his ninth game this season and first since Nov. 24, was in the right place and slammed the puck past Florida goalkeeper Tomas Vokoun for his first goal since last January.

Clifford got the assist for his long-awaited first NHL point.

Trevor Lewis missed a great opportunity for his first NHL goal a minute later when a rebound came off to the side, but he missed the open net.

Justin Williams started the game on the top line with Kopitar and Brown, but Williams was back on the second line with Ryan Smyth and Jarret Stoll in the third period, and Wayne Simmonds was back at right wing on the top line.

More to come from the locker room.