UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Roberto Luongo is using his stick, his glove and now even his face to keep shots out of the net.
Luongo made 29 saves Monday, including a penalty-shot stop in the third period, and earned his first non-shutout win of the season in the Florida Panthers' 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders.
The former first-round pick of the Islanders was sharp early, making one save when he sprawled across the crease to deny Jason Blake with his stick and another off a shot that struck him in the mask by his chin.
With the Islanders already ahead 1-0 and on a power play in the final minute of the period, rookie defenseman Tomi Pettinen let go a hard shot that hit Luongo flush and knocked him onto his stomach.
"I was a little stung, but after a couple of minutes I was OK," Luongo said.
He was better than that, stopping all 18 New York shots the rest of the way. Luongo has turned aside 119 of 122 shots in Florida's first four games and was chosen Monday as the NHL's defensive player of the week.
Luongo (3-1) posted shutouts in the first two games, stopping 61 shots, and didn't allow a goal until a 2-1 loss Saturday to Tampa Bay.
"Everybody believes in him, he believes in himself. As long as you play hard defensively, he's going to make a majority of the saves," said Florida forward Joe Nieuwendyk, a free-agent signing this summer. "I didn't realize how good Louie was until I got here."
The Panthers didn't score more than twice in a game before Monday and it took an empty-netter to get to three.
Kristian Huselius and Chris Gratton scored 4:31 apart in the second period to give Florida a rare early lead and Rostislav Olesz sealed Florida's.500 road trip with 34.3 seconds left when he scored his first NHL goal on his 20th birthday.
Florida could've had more early, but Rick DiPietro made a pad stop against Niklas Hagman when he was left alone in front in the opening minute. Juraj Kolnik then shot wide of the net when he had a clear shot shortly after.
"You can't just focus on goals, you have to look at the number of chances," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "I really liked the first 10 minutes. Hagman had a great chance, you have to give credit to their goaltender."
But his goalie was better.
Luongo's biggest test came with 14:34 left when Miroslav Satan was given a penalty shot after he was hooked on a breakaway by former Islanders defenseman Branislav Mezei.
Satan's low shot was steered away by Luongo's stick.
"When he goes down, there's nothing there, so I thought I could get the shot in there quickly," Satan said. "Unfortunately, he's too quick. I felt responsible for this game. I think I should have put it in."
DiPietro made 20 saves and Satan scored the only goal for the Islanders (1-2).
The Panthers took a 2-1 lead on a play that appeared promising, broke down, and reformed to produce a goal.
After Oleg Kvasha turned over the puck near center ice, Florida broke into the Islanders' zone on an odd-man rush. Niklas Hagman had two skaters alongside but dumped a pass into no man's land as he came in off the left point.
Nathan Horton got to it with only Brent Sopel back on defense for New York. Horton got the puck across to Gratton, who easily steered a shot into the open right side at 7:46 for his first goal.
Huselius gave Florida its first lead since the second game of the season with his first goal at 3:15.
That marked the first goal scored by Florida that didn't come in the third period. The Panthers scored five total goals in their first two games, including consecutive 2-0 victories to start the season.
Satan got his second goal in two games after going seven preseason games and the first real one without a point. It came 15 seconds into a power play.
The Islanders stayed in the game because they were able to kill off nine of Florida's 10 man advantages. Notes: Luongo has stopped all five penalty shots against him in his career.... Florida LW Gary Roberts played only 3:07 after aggravating a groin injury. He is day to day.
© 2017. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us