Loss to Hurricanes spoils Luongo’s 500th game with Panthers

Roberto Luongo skated off the ice for an extra attacker with under three minutes left in the third period on Tuesday night. This season and for most of his career with the Panthers, it’s something he’s been no stranger to doing. 

Luongo, playing in his 500th game as a member of the Florida Panthers and 972nd game of his NHL career, which is now good for third all-time in league history, made a number of big stops to keep the Panthers alive.

However, his 46 saves weren’t enough to get the Panthers their first victory in nearly two weeks as they fell 3-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes to kick off a 3-game road trip.

“[Luongo] bailed us out a lot tonight,” said Keith Yandle.

Luongo wasn’t able to stop Derek Ryan, who’s third goal of the season – and eventual game-winner – came after a he was left all alone at the front of the net to bat a point shot rebound out of the air and into the net halfway through the final frame.

With the Panthers losing streak now at five and falling to last place in the Atlantic Division, Luongo remains on the lookout for his 455th win, which would give him sole possession of fourth on the all-time wins list.

“It’s frustrating right now,” said head coach Bob Boughner. “I’m frustrated, the staff is, and the players are.”

The Panthers also have six losses in their last seven games and sit with the second-fewest points in the league. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes ended a four-game losing streak of their own.

“We’re finding ways to lose games instead of finding ways to win them,” said Luongo.

Brock McGinn, playing against his brother Jamie of the Panthers for the first time in the NHL, opened the scoring for the Hurricanes on a rebound at the top of the blue paint in the second period.

Vincent Trocheck notched his team-leading seventh goal of the season – and the Panthers’ lone marker in the game – to cap off a slick passing play with during the man-advantage in the second period.

He went into the offensive zone with speed and left the puck for Jonathan Huberdeau in the slot. Trocheck continued to the front of the net and received the puck right back before putting it around a sprawled out Scott Darling.

But to be clear, the Panthers didn’t exactly give themselves the best chance to win.

Through the first two periods, they surrendered 39 shots on goal while finishing the game having allowed 29 scoring chances and 59 attempted shots at even-strength.

The Panthers also matched their season-high of 48 shots allowed, which also makes it five times this season that they’ve allowed at least 40 shots.

After a doing a decent job of keeping shots to the perimeter during Saturday’s home game against the Rangers, the Panthers seemingly went back to their old ways of allowing chances in high-percentage areas against the Hurricanes.

The Panthers weren’t able to get to those same areas on their own like they’ve normally been able to, instead seeing their chances come from a wider variety of locations in the offensive zone.

Connor Brickley took back-to-back penalties early in the first period, and Micheal Haley did the same in the second period giving the Hurricanes four of their five power plays on the night.

“We spent too much time with the same guys killing penalties, and then when it’s time to pour it on offensively, we’ve got not a lot of juice left,” said Boughner.

“We’ve talked about it, that we’ve been taking too many of late. We actually had a meeting on it yesterday, we showed video about our bad sticks getting up.”

The Panthers converted on one of their two power play opportunities.

“Our game is good, our game is fine,” said Boughner. “We want to spend more time in their end but you can’t when you’re tired. There’s some good things in the 3rd period and we couldn’t find the second goal.”

Game notes:

  • Jared McCann and Mike Matheson both sat out as scratches. Chase Balisy, recalled from the AHL on Monday, and Mackenzie Weegar filled the two vacant lineup spots.
  • The Panthers returned 2017 10th-overall pick Owen Tippett to his junior team, the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads, on Monday. He played in seven games, recording a goal and 17 shots.
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