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Luongo faces former team as Panthers host Canucks

by Staff

CANUCKS (30-29-10) AT PANTHERS (25-35-7)


Last 10: Vancouver 3-6-1; Florida 3-7-0

Season series: This is the second of two games between the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks. The Panthers won 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 19, with the lone goal in the tiebreaker coming from Jonathan Huberdeau.

Big story: Longtime Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo will face the Canucks for the first time since being traded to Florida on March 4.

"It's going to be weird. I was in that locker room a week-and-a-half ago, so it's the first time really I've been traded during the season," Luongo said. "I don't know how I'm going to feel but it's definitely going to feel weird."

Team Scope:

Canucks: Vancouver lost 4-3 to the Washington Capitals on Friday despite outshooting the Capitals 41-21. With every point being so critical to the Canucks' late-season Stanley Cup Playoff push in the Western Conference, captain Henrik Sedin said Sunday is a must-win.

The Canucks are 1-1-0 on a four-game road trip that ends with back-to-back games against the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We knew going in that we at least needed a 3-1 road trip. We have to go down to Florida here and get these two games," Sedin said. "Come back and at least give ourselves a chance down the stretch."

Eddie Lack, who allowed four goals Friday, will face Luongo, who helped mentor him through his rookie season.

"Playing against Roberto in the first game is going to be a tough game," Lack said after the loss to Washington. "They've got an offensive team down there. And then we have a tough game against Tampa too, so it's going to be two very tough games. But if we play like we did tonight I think we can pull it off."

Panthers: Florida is coming off a 5-3 come-from-behind win against the New Jersey Devils on Friday in which the Panthers scored the game's final four goals. It ended a three-game losing streak for the Panthers, who begin a four-game western road trip after the game against the Canucks.

"For us all season, we've always had that push all season. [Friday] we were able to complete that. It's good," forward Brad Boyes said after the game. "Teams are fighting hard for a [playoff] spot, and for us we've got to continue to play well through injuries. It's a lot more fun winning, so we want to do that."

Who's hot: Panthers rookie forward Quinton Howden has a goal in each of his past two games. … Canucks forward Chris Higgins has four points in his past three games.

Injury report: Canucks defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) and forwards Mike Santorelli (shoulder) and Daniel Sedin (hamstring) are on injured reserve. Forward Ryan Kesler (knee) is out. Right wing Brad Richardson (undisclosed) did not play Friday. ... The Panthers are without forwards Tomas Kopecky (concussion) and Aleksander Barkov (knee), both of whom are on IR. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson (knee) and forward Jesse Winchester (lower body) are out. Left wing Sean Beregenheim (lower body) did not play Friday.

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