Luongo reaches milestone as Panthers top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. — Roberto Luongo etched his name in the record books Monday night as the Florida Panthers defeated the New Jersey Devils 3-2 at the Prudential Center.
Luongo posted his 200th victory as a member of the Panthers, making him just the second goaltender in NHL history to win 200 games for two different teams, joining Hockey Hall of Famer Patrick Roy.
Luongo also won 252 games with the Vancouver Canucks. Roy had 289 victories with the Montreal Canadiens and 262 with the Colorado Avalanche.
Afterward, Luongo said he had no idea about the milestone until a team representative informed him in the postgame dressing room. He then downplayed the significance of joining Roy in the record books.
“It’s nice, but I’m not thinking about it too much, just trying to stay in the zone and in the moment right now,” said Luongo, who made 23 saves. “Those milestones will be nice one day when it’s all said and done.”
Earlier this season, Luongo passed Terry Sawchuk for third place on the career games played list by a goaltender and then eclipsed Curtis Joseph for fourth place on the league’s career wins list.
“He’s a pretty special guy,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said of Luongo. “He’s usually, on most nights, if not our best player, one of our best players. So it’s nice to be on the same team as him.”
Luongo bested former Canucks teammate Cory Schneider. The Devils goalie stopped the first 29 shots he faced before finishing with 35 saves.
“We know we didn’t have our best game tonight,” Schneider said. “Give them credit, they were ready to go and played hard. For us, it’s not a good one. It’s up to us to fix that.”
The Panthers dominated the first 40 minutes, attempting 53 shots to the Devils’ 15 and officially outshooting New Jersey 31-10 in the first two periods. Schneider made a string of clutch saves to keep his badly outplayed team in the game.
“It’s not the game we needed,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We were not good enough by any means. We didn’t deserve to win this game.”
The Panthers broke through on their 30th shot against Schneider. Aleksander Barkov scored his seventh goal off a two-on-one short-handed rush at 17:20 of the second period to give Florida a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we played smart all game, played in their zone, put a lot of pucks on net,” explained Barkov, whose goal was his first in six games. “(Schneider) was unbelievable tonight, but when you put a lot of pucks to the net, it’s got to go in and we got rewarded for that.”
Things got exciting in the third period as the teams combined for three goals in the opening 8:19.
Rookie Nico Hischier scored his fifth goal of the season and second in as many games at 2:20, pulling the Devils even by snapping a 10-foot shot over Luongo’s glove.
The Panthers restored their one-goal lead on Vincent Trocheck’s team-leading 10th goal at 4:07.
Trocheck, stymied three times on Grade A chances by Schneider earlier in the game, beat the Devils goalie to the stick side with an unassisted goal that first went through the legs of New Jersey defenseman Andy Greene.
The Devils, though, caught a break four minutes later when Jesper Bratt slid a puck through Luongo’s crease and had it bounce off the skate of Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad and over the goal line to tie the score 2-2 at 8:19.
With the clock winding down in regulation, Florida’s Jared McCann stepped up and scored the eventual winning goal at 12:45 of the third period.
His original shot was blocked off the rush by Greene, McCann collected the rebound and flipped his fourth goal of the season past Schneider.
“The first two periods probably were our best of the year,” said Luongo, who has won five of his last seven starts. “They had a push there in the third, but it was nice we were able to respond every time and come back and score. All in all, it was a good effort by our guys.”
NOTES: Devils LW Marcus Johansson (concussion) missed his 13th consecutive game but was medically cleared to return to action and will accompany the team on its upcoming three-game road trip. ... The Devils scratched D Dalton Prout and RW Jimmy Hayes. ... Panthers C Aleksander Barkov scored his third short-handed goal of the season, tying him with Buffalo Sabres LW Evander Kane for the NHL lead. ... RW Evgeni Dadonov, C Connor Brickley and D Ian McCoshen were the Panthers’ healthy scratches.