Florida Panthers

Panthers lose in shootout, waste another chance for two points

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) blocks a shot by St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015.
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) blocks a shot by St. Louis Blues center Patrik Berglund (21) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 15, 2015. AP

Nick Bjugstad and Roberto Luongo were the biggest reasons the Panthers at least got a point out of Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the visiting Blues.

Neither one was all too pleased about it. One point simply isn’t good enough right now.

“That’s not a great mentality to have,’’ Luongo said. “You want to win games, that’s the mentality that gets you into the playoffs.’’

Bjugstad has been the only Florida player to score in the past three games and Sunday, his shot with 1:13 left tied the score and forced overtime after Florida pulled Luongo to add an extra attacker.

“A point is nice, but we want to win,’’ Bjugstad said. “You can’t be satisfied with that.’’

Florida’s defensive play has been better lately, although its offense has gone dry.

In the Panthers’ three-game winless streak (0-2-1), Florida has just two Bjugstad goals — both odd-angled shots from the goal line — to show for it.

With goals at a premium, Luongo and St. Louis counterpart Brian Elliott did plenty of heavy lifting.

The Blues’ lone goal came midway through the second when Jaden Schwartz’s high wrister beat Luongo on St. Louis’ 20th shot.

Aside from that, Luongo made 32 saves, not including three in the shootout. The Blues won that 2-1 in the fifth round after Jori Lehtera scored and Jimmy Hayes was stopped.

Elliott earned first-star honors after he made 40 saves — not counting four in the shootout.

“Our goalie was our best player,’’ St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock said on his way to the bus. “See you tomorrow.”

With the point, Florida finally pulled within three points of idle Boston for the final playoff spot in the East. After last Tuesday’s 6-2 rout of Anaheim, Florida was four points out.

Then the offense went flat.

“We battled hard, tying it up was huge at the end,’’ Luongo said. “It’s nice to get a point but it’s not going to cut it if we don’t start winning games.’’


The Panthers held a moment of silence for defenseman Steve Montador, who was found dead in his suburban Toronto home on Sunday morning.

Montador, 35, spent three seasons with the Panthers from 2005-08 and played for five other NHL teams as well.

Popular with teammates and fans alike, Montador had been open about his battle with depression he said was caused by concussions.

“I consider Monty one of my closest friends,’’ said St. Louis defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, a teammate in Florida.

“I heard about it just before we got to the rink. I’m still in disbelief. I don’t know what happened. It [stinks]. I don’t think anyone who ever played with him had a bad word to say. He was always happy, smiling. I saw him earlier this year in L.A., spoke to him at Christmas. I wish I would have called him more often.’’

Luongo spent only one season with Montador, but the two had a lasting relationship. Montador frequented the Italian restaurant Luongo’s in-laws owned and the two stayed in touch.

“I’ve been sad all day. He’s been in my thoughts the entire day,’’ Luongo said. “He’s my age and that’s kind of a reality check. You never know what a day will bring. It’s tough to hear news like this.’’

Martin Gelinas, who played with Montador with the Flames and Panthers, fought back tears as he spoke to reporters in Calgary.

“Nobody has a bad thing to say about Steve,’’ Gelinas said. “He was a fun guy to be around.’’

▪ Sean Bergenheim, who has asked the Panthers for a trade, was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game and fifth time in the past seven.

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