Sometimes you have to be lucky to be good and good to be lucky. On Saturday night the Panthers were lucky and Roberto Luongo was good.
Luongo was on the top of his game, turning aside 39 shots as the Panthers defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1.
Luongo made several spectacular saves among his many, including a couple of flurries in the third period when the Senators were pressing to get back into the game.
“We were pretty lucky [Saturday]. It’s nice to get a win but we were lucky and Lou was playing excellent. He was unbelievable in the net,” said Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, who opened the scoring and added a first-period assist to get the Panthers’ offense moving.
“The score says we won 4-1 but Lou saved three or four goals at least, so we have to thank him for this one.”
Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Marchessault and Derek MacKenzie also scored for the Panthers (9-8-1).
Craig Anderson made 19 saves for the Senators (10-7-1), who have lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season.
Jagr opened the scoring just 25 seconds into the game when his backhand was redirected by the stick of Senators forward Derick Brassard past Anderson.
Jagr then left the puck at the Ottawa blue line for Aleksander Barkov, who then found Jokinen in the slot, and he beat Anderson high to the glove side with a wrist shot.
In between those two goals, Ryan Dzingel got past Panthers defenseman Jakub Kindl, but fired a shot off the crossbar. Kindl received a hooking penalty on the play but the Senators managed just one shot during the man advantage.
Luongo got a little help in the second period when Aaron Ekblad slid to block a Mark Stone shot after the original shot by Brassard went off the end boards right to Stone at the side of the net.
“We took advantage of our opportunities [Saturday night] and that’s the moral of the story I think,” Luongo said.
“I don’t think by any means we thought we played a great game as a team but we took advantage of our opportunities and we got our chances we buried them and sometimes that’s all it takes. All in all I made a couple of big saves but the boys were able to take advantage of the opportunities and give me a little bit of breathing room.”
Luongo later stopped Jean-Gabriel Pageau point blank with a sprawling save, then foiled Dzingel on a breakaway.
“He had a great game [Saturday night],” Senators winger Chris Neil said of Luongo. “We had a lot of good chances and it was just one of those games.
“We did a lot of good things and we have to build off it. Obviously the score doesn’t dictate how the game went, but we have to take the positives, take a day of rest [Sunday] and come back Monday and build off it. If you play like that you’re going to win more games than you’re going to lose.”
Marchessault gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead at 14:55 of the second when a blocked shot went right to his stick at the side of the goal. He quickly swatted the puck past Anderson.
Pageau broke the shutout bid as his shot from below the goal line found its way in between Luongo’s shoulder and the crossbar at 4:45 of the third period.
MacKenzie got that goal back for the Panthers at 9:16 when his shot barely got through Anderson and across the goal line.
The Panthers are off to Madison Square Garden for a game with the New York Rangers and the finale of their four-game road trip.
Sunday: Panthers at Rangers
When/where: 7 p.m.; Madison Square Garden, New York.
TV/radio: FSFL; WZAB 880, WMEN 640.
Series: New York leads 50-33-6.
Scouting report: The Rangers won the first three games of a western Canadian road trip with wins in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver before ending it with Friday’s loss in Columbus. The Panthers haven’t beaten the Rangers at MSG since 2013 — a span of five consecutive losses.