Florida Panthers

Panthers turn to Reimer after Luongo lost to injury

Florida’s James Reimer took over for Roberto Luongo in the second period of Thursday’s game in Philadelphia.
Florida’s James Reimer took over for Roberto Luongo in the second period of Thursday’s game in Philadelphia. AP

Roberto Luongo limped out of the visitor’s locker room late Thursday night with a “what-are-you-going-to-do?” look on his face.

A few hours before, Luongo started in what turned out to be a 2-1 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

He wouldn’t finish it.

Luongo left Thursday’s game after playing through pain for much of the first period. He made 13 saves and helped kill off a lengthy 5-on-3 power-play chance for the Flyers despite aggravating a condition he has been dealing with for sometime midway through the first.

James Reimer came in to start the second and ended up making 35 saves in a wild game in which both teams combined for 89 shots yet just two goals.

While general manager and interim coach Tom Rowe said Luongo would miss a week, Luongo said he was hopeful that was true but isn’t sure.

“There is no timeline on this,” he said.

Luongo had surgery on his hip following last season’s playoff loss to the Islanders and rehabbed throughout the summer.

It’s not believed Luongo’s surgically repaired hip is causing the pain, but it is related. Luongo told the Miami Herald on Sunday that he was battling some sort of injury, and he went down in pain Tuesday night after stopping Carolina’s Sebastian Aho in the second round of a shootout win in Sunrise.

Luongo was back in the lineup Thursday. After making a similar move as he did against Aho, he was in obvious pain but kept going.

Florida called up Reto Berra from its minor-league team in Massachusetts on Thursday. Acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a deal for Rocco Grimaldi, Berra was brought in as an insurance policy of sorts in case Luongo wasn’t able to start the season on time.

He was, so Berra started the season in the minors.

“Berra is a guy we liked, had a real good camp, and we got him for this reason,” Rowe said.

Now, the Panthers will have Reimer as their starting goalie with Berra backing him up, at least for the time being.

Florida has plenty of faith in Reimer — as well it should.

Thursday’s 35-save performance in Philadelphia was just another example of Reimer’s strong play not only lately but throughout the season.

“He has been great,” Rowe said. “We have confidence in both goalies. Sometimes, when you’re No. 2 [going] in, there’s a question. With Reimer, he’s a No. 1 goalie.”

Being a starting goalie isn’t new to Reimer, although being the backup kind of was.

Until being traded to San Jose at last year’s deadline, Reimer carried the load in Toronto and was targeted by the Panthers to come in just in case this very situation with Luongo popped up.

Florida signed Reimer to a five-year deal in July, an odd move for a backup goalie unless plans were for something more.

“You train all summer so you are ready for whatever comes your way,” Reimer said.

▪ Former Florida captain Olli Jokinen will officially retire as a member of the Panthers before Tuesday’s home game against the New York Rangers. Jokinen, 38, played his last NHL game with St. Louis in 2015.

Despite being traded to Arizona by the Panthers at the 2008 draft, Jokinen kept his home in Broward County and is one of the founders of the South Florida Hockey Academy run out of Pompano Beach.

Jokinen came to the Panthers along with Luongo in a 2000 trade with the Islanders and put up 188 goals and 419 points in 567 games with Florida.

Saturday: Stars at Panthers

When/where: 7 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640, WMYM 990.

Series: Florida leads 15-14-3.

Scouting report: The disappointing Stars won just four of 12 games last month and have dropped two of their past three coming in. … Florida won the lone prior meeting this season on New Year’s Eve as Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck scored in the first and James Reimer made 35 saves in a 3-1 victory.

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