Al Montoya was all smiles in the cramped locker room at PNC Arena on Tuesday night.
After giving up a goal on 23 shots and helping lead the Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the Hurricanes, Montoya had plenty to be happy about.
Carolina’s arena is a place where Montoya said he likes playing as it brings good memories.
In 2004, the Rangers took Montoya with the sixth overall pick at the draft hosted by the Hurricanes.
“It was 10, 11 years ago I got drafted here, and it’s pretty special,” Montoya said. “A lot of memories come flooding back. Driving in on the bus, you look around and everything comes back. This place does hold a place in my heart for sure.”
Montoya is part of Florida’s talented goaltending crew; he and Roberto Luongo have given up one goal in each of their three starts this season.
Last season, Montoya went 6-7-2 in backup work but said he was committed to his off-ice work in the offseason — something that has been noticed by teammates, management and coaches.
“He played excellent, he has been very sharp,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “This was the first game of the season for him, so he came to the rink early, got in a little skate. It was a real solid effort from him.”
▪ The Panthers are back home for the first time since their season opener on Saturday as Buffalo comes to town.
This will be the first game in Sunrise for Buffalo’s Jack Eichel — who was taken second in the June draft held at BB&T Center.
Eichel, 18, has two goals in three games for the Sabres so far.
Thursday: Sabres at Panthers
When, where: 7:30 p.m.; BB&T Center, Sunrise.
TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560, WMEN 640, WNMA 1210.
Series: Sabres lead 45-35-4.
Scouting report: Florida won four of five against the Sabres last season and seven of the past nine in the series. Buffalo got its first win of the season Monday against Columbus. Florida won two of its first three.