Florida Panthers

Florida Panthers, Roberto Luongo hold off Vancouver Canucks

Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) keeps his eye on the play as Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) tries to clear Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (51) from in front of the net during first-period NHL hockey game action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015.
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) keeps his eye on the play as Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) tries to clear Vancouver Canucks right wing Derek Dorsett (51) from in front of the net during first-period NHL hockey game action in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015. AP

On a night in which his eight mostly-successful seasons here were celebrated, Roberto Luongo got the thing he most wanted.

A victory.

Luongo, who was winless in three previous games against the Canucks, made 32 saves and held off Vancouver for a 3-1 victory.

Luongo, who tied Dominik Hasek for 11th all-time with his 389th victory, has now beaten all 30 teams in the NHL.

Vancouver, before Thursday, had been the only team Luongo had never beaten.

Luongo does have four wins against the Panthers.

"This was special,'' said Luongo, who was traded back to the Panthers from Vancouver last March.

"The whole night they were cheering me on. I'm very thankful for the support and very happy things went the way they did. We got the win and I was able to enjoy a great night."

The trio of Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Brad Boyes were all over the ice on Thursday, creating one scoring opportunity after another.

Down 1-0 in the first, Huberdeau picked up his first goal of the night by scoring off a loose puck not long after the Canucks celebrated Luongo's time here with a 45-second video on the scoreboard.

Luongo didn't seem to want to watch the piece, saying he didn't want to get too emotional. Luongo did acknowledge the mostly positive reaction from the sold-out crowd.

"I didn't want to get too emotional and have to fight that afterward,'' Luongo said.

Added coach Gerard Gallant: "I thought we played a pretty good game after the six minute mark. Lou played an outstanding game and was great for us. He was outstanding. Definitely the No. 1 star."

In the second, Barkov got his first goal since Nov. 11 by deflecting a long shot from rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad.

Barkov had originally been awarded Florida's first goal as it appeared he knocked in a loose puck. The scoring was changed during the intermission although Barkov didn't seem to mind.

"Big win for us,'' he said.

The Panthers took a two-goal lead into the third period when Huberdeau got his second of the night. Dmitry Kulikov caught Huberdeau streaking up the ice with a crisp long-distance pass and Huberdeau walked in on Ryan Miller and scored top shelf.

"I got the puck, saw him in front of the defenseman and laid it out there for him to skate into,'' Kulikov said. "I love making plays like that, especially when we scored. That made it hard for them to come back. It was huge. Everyone showed up today. Huge win.''

Said Huberdeau: "Things were working for us. We worked the puck in, got behind the net and got some bounces. We won the 1-on-1 battles and didn't have to play much defense. We were in our zone the whole night.''

This was Luongo's night, however, as despite Huberdeau's three-point night, the Florida goalie -- who was cheered for much of the night -- was named the game's top star.

After the Panthers killed off a four-minute penalty (one in which they were down two skaters for 40 seconds), Luongo was run over by Derek Dorsett.

Luongo took umbrage to being hit again and threw punches at Dorsett before Huberdeau jumped in to defend his goalie.

"I thought he was going to fight,'' Huberdeau said with a smile. "The most important thing for us is to protect our goalie. We're always going to protect him. He's been great for us.''

Said Luongo: "That was the third or fourth time I got knocked over. I had just had enough.''

Luongo ended up finishing things off without much problem after that and was mobbed by his teammates when the final horn sounded.

After they all skated toward the locker room, Luongo made his way to the bench to a rousing ovation. Luongo took off his mask, waving his stick in the air in salute to the cheering throng that remained.

After Huberdeau was announced as the game's second star, the 'Lou' chant got louder. Everyone knew who would be coming back out of the tunnel to be awarded the player of the game honors.

"It was nice to receive that acknowledgment,'' Luongo said. "I played here for eight years, gave my heart and soul the whole time. There were some ups-and-downs obviously but I'm glad the positive was remembered more than the negative.''

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