Roberto Luongo had another milestone for the Panthers on Monday night, something that has become commonplace between himself and Jaromir Jagr over the past few seasons.
Every few nights, it seems, Luongo or Jagr are doing something which places them ahead of one Hall of Famer or another in the NHL record books.
Although both of them seem to play off the significance, their coaches and teammates definitely share how impressive their feats are.
“When you talk about the players they’re both going by, it’s Hall of Fame players,” coach Tom Rowe said after Florida’s 3-0 win over the host New Jersey Devils on Monday night.
“Both of them will be in the Hall of Fame when their careers are over. It’s a pleasure to be able to hang out with those guys – and I don’t even know if you can say you’re coaching them. You just make sure the other guys are playing the right way and learning from them.”
On Monday night, Luongo made 28 saves and shut out the Devils to pick up his 448th career NHL victory giving him sole possession of fifth place just beyond Terry Sawchuk on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
Luongo is within shouting distance of Curtis Joseph (454 wins) and one-time Florida goalie Eddie Belfour (484) but a long way from all-time wins leader and former Devil Martin Brodeur’s 691 victories.
On Tuesday, he joked on Twitter that “After doing the math.... If I play another 28 years I will still fall about 5-6 wins shy of tying Marty's record!”
“He has been amazing every night, gives us a chance to win every night,” Florida defenseman Keith Yandle said. “He has been awesome every night and there have been a lot of games where we hang him out to dry. It’s a special night for him; this was a big win. …
“I played against him in the west for a long time, and you always knew it was going to be hard to get a goal against him. It has been impressive. The compete level he has makes it easy to play in front of him.”
Jagr recently passed Mike Messier for second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list and is lightyears away from catching leader Wayne Gretzky.
When it comes to the league’s top spots in the record books, both seem to know their limitations.
Luongo hadn’t been on the winning side of a game for the Panthers since Dec. 20 so just getting the victory Monday seemed special enough to him. The way his defense played in front of him was worth celebrating as well.
Florida’s new-look defense hasn’t always looked real good this season but it did on Monday as the Panthers appeared committed to getting the puck out of the Florida zone quickly as Luongo admitted he didn’t have to do a whole lot against the Devils.
Luongo and the Panthers hope that trend continues Wednesday in Brooklyn against 2016 postseason for the New York Islanders.
“We played a patient game and didn’t have a lot of turnovers,” Luongo said. “That was part of our game-plan in a road game with a lot of guys out of the lineup. You have to win ugly a bit and sometimes you have to do that. We may have to do more of it if we want to be successful. It was a great effort.”
Added Yandle: “We have blown leads too many times this season and we stressed it on the bench; play solid, don’t give [the Devils] too many opportunities. We were smarter with the puck, didn’t turn it over too much. Any win, you have to build on it.”
▪ The Panthers will have at least one player representing the team at next month’s All-Star Weekend at the Staples Center in Los Angeles as center Vincent Trocheck was selected for the Atlantic Division team on Tuesday.
This is the first All-Star selection for the 23-year-old who was part of Team North America at the World World Cup of Hockey in September – not long after he signed a six-year deal with the Panthers.
Florida had three representatives (Jagr, Luongo and Aaron Ekblad) and then-coach Gerard Gallant at last year’s All-Star fest in Nashville.
Luongo was not selected for an All-Star game for the first time since rejoining the Panthers in 2014. Luongo went to games in Columbus and Nashville in the previous two seasons.
▪ The Panthers took a day off the ice on Tuesday to tour New York as part of their ‘Fathers’ Trip’ festivities as the team set up personalized tours of the New York Stock Exchange as well as the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.
Doug Cifu, who takes over for Vinnie Viola as team governor soon as Viola has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be Secretary of the Army, said the Panthers holding a father’s trip for the first time was important as the team tries to turn their season around.
“It has definitely been a challenge,” said Cifu, who joined Viola and the rest of the team’s traveling party for their annual dinner in Brooklyn on Tuesday night.
Wednesday: Panthers at Islanders
When/where: 7 p.m.; Barclays Center, Brooklyn.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WFTL 850.
Series: Florida leads 46-37-8.
Scouting report: This is Florida’s first trip back to Brooklyn since losing there in Game 6 of the opening round of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs. Florida won the first meeting between the two this season in overtime in Sunrise on Nov. 12.