Roberto Luongo hit two milestones Friday as he returned to the ice after a mild concussion.
Not only did the Panthers’ goalie play in his 800th NHL game, but also he did so on his 35th birthday.
The only thing he didn’t get Friday was a win.
Calgary scored twice early in the second period and left the BB&T Center with a 2-1 win after goalie Joey MacDonald made 34 saves.
The Panthers have lost five in a row and eight of the past nine. Calgary has won two ina row after pulling off the Sunshine State Sweep in successive nights.
“A win would have been nice, but the effort was there,” said Luongo, who is second on the NHL’s active list in games played by a goalie. Luongo trails 41-year-old Martin Brodeur, who is at 1,257. “We just couldn’t get the equalizer.”
With both teams long eliminated from postseason consideration, Friday’s game was expected to at least be wide open.
Early on, it was anything but.
Florida had one of the few scoring chances in the opening period when Scott Gomez rang a shot off the goalpost with 20 seconds left.
Then came the second with the two teams scoring three goals within a span of just over four minutes.
Calgary opened it when Kenny Agostino fired a shot through 1:34 into the period. Florida countered with a power-play goal from Vincent Trocheck a few moments later.
The Flames took the lead back, however, at 6:09 when Mike Cammalleri one-timed a feed from Jiri Hudler.
In the third, Sean Bergenheim hit the post in one of Florida’s scoring chances, but nothing would get past MacDonald.
“We had 35 shots, had some chances but they still play a pretty good defensive game,” coach Peter Horachek said. “We need to find a way to get that second goal. But give them credit; they blocked a lot of shots. They were committed to that.”
The Florida chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association nominated defenseman Ed Jovanovski for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The award is annually given to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
Jovanovski, 37, missed almost all of last season after having radical hip resurfacing surgery. He became what is believed to be the first pro athlete to return from such a major procedure on Jan.3.
“When I came back and went through the rehab, there was that doubt of the chances of never playing again,” Jovanovski said.
“Having the passion to come back and get in there and do my work, 35 games or so into it and not missing many practices, it’s definitely a treat to be here.”
Olli Jokinen, the former Panthers captain who still resides in northwest Broward County, is Winnipeg’s nominee for the award.
This and that
“Right now I’m not really considering him coming back in,” Horachek said. “He could skate well and it could be a change of heart, but I think it’s best that he just gets back skating, gets healthy, feels like he’s ready to go and have a good summer.”