Florida Panthers

Roberto Luongo only Panthers player to get All-Star nod

Goalie Roberto Luongo will be making his fourth trip to the All-Star Game later this month in Columbus, Ohio.
Goalie Roberto Luongo will be making his fourth trip to the All-Star Game later this month in Columbus, Ohio. AP

The first time Roberto Luongo appeared in an NHL All-Star Game, it came as a member of the Florida Panthers in 2004.

Luongo will again be an NHL All-Star. He was named Saturday as Florida’s lone representative for the game.

Rookie defenseman Aaron Ekblad will also be heading to Columbus, Ohio, as he was picked for the skills competition.

This season’s All-Star Weekend will be held in Columbus from Jan.24-25.

“It is an honor and not only a reflection of myself but the way this team is playing,” said Luongo, who is making his fourth trip to the event and first since 2009 in Montreal.

“It’s more of a team recognition than anything else.

“Obviously, I’ve felt good on the ice, have worked hard on the ice and off it as far as the mental aspect goes. But this wouldn’t be possible I don’t think without our team play.”

Said Ekblad: “I’m very happy to go to Columbus.

“Obviously, it’s another step, something to look forward to. It’s an honor. Not many people get this chance.”

On Friday night, Luongo took the night off as the Panthers got into a track meet with the host Flames at the Saddledome.

Florida’s 6-5 victory had six lead changes, the final one coming when Tomas Fleischmann scored with 3:09 remaining.

Tied at 4 heading into the third period, the Panthers took a 5-4 lead when Brian Campbell scored a controversial goal that took a few minutes to be reviewed at Hockey Central in Toronto.

In question was whether Sean Bergenheim deflected Campbell’s long shot with a high stick before the puck reached goalie Jonas Hiller and bounded off his blocker and into the cage.

The official review was inconclusive, and Campbell was awarded the goal.

“That’s the first bounce I’ve had on the offensive side this season,” Campbell said. “I’ll take it.”

Florida’s lead didn’t hold up for long, as the Flames tied it with 3:54 remaining.

As they had all night, the Panthers kept coming and grabbed their final lead of the game less than a minute later when Dave Bolland fed Fleischmann in the slot.

Fleischmann shoveled the puck past Hiller, and the Panthers were up one with 3:09 left.

“It was so good to see that,” Campbell said. “Flash works so hard. He needed some puck luck there.”

The final few minutes matched the previous 58 for intensity, as Calgary got a late power-play chance and had six skaters attacking Montoya with an empty net.

Florida held tight — Jussi Jokinen made a huge block on a T.J. Brodie shot — and escaped with another road victory.

“That was back-to-back for us, and we really battled back,” Jokinen said.

“Even though Montoya gave up five goals, he made some really big saves, especially at the end.”

Montoya gave up five goals a few days after flying across North America. Montoya’s wife, Annie, gave birth to a son on Monday morning in South Florida, and Al flew to Vancouver on Wednesday.

“It’s great; I’m glad we won, and I’m not going to think too much about it,” Montoya said.

“These guys battled for me. My hat is off to them. They stuck with it and believed we were going to win this game.

“Not every team can do that. This team believes in each other.”


Coach Gerard Gallant knew Dmitry Kulikov would miss Friday's game with a case of the flu but the team's second victim came as quite a surprise.

Aleksander Barkov was forced to come off the ice during warmups. The Panthers quickly called Vincent Trocheck to tell him he was playing.

Since he thought he was a scratch, he and Brandon Pirri were taking their time in getting to the arena.

He would quickly get on his horse.

"We left the hotel at 6:30, grabbed some dinner. Luckily I stayed light and got a salad,'' said Trocheck, who was sporting a nasty cut near his right eye after being checked into the boards in the first.

"There was a ton of traffic on the way here and we were going slow. Then they wouldn't let us into the gate and we had to walk with all of our luggage. It was a day, I guess. That's a first.''

Trocheck made it to the Panthers bench just as the anthems had finished. He took Barkov's spot centering Huberdeau and Boyes.

"I literally ran through the halls pulling on equipment,'' Trocheck said.

"I was in the cab at 6:57 and on the ice by 7:04.''


▪ Gallant said Saturday that there was no update on Kulikov or Barkov’s condition, but he hoped they could play Sunday against the Oilers.

▪ The Panthers have won three of their first four games on the six-game road trip that continues Sunday in Edmonton.

Sunday: Panthers at Oilers

When/where: 7 p.m.; Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta

TV/radio: FSFL; WQAM 560.

Series: Edmonton leads 13-8-3.

Noteworthy: The Panthers have won their past two games in Edmonton and haven’t won here since 2008. … The Oilers have won two of four games this month — with wins over the Islanders and Blackhawks — after losing 12 of 14 in December.

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