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Panthers' Luongo to return against Jets

Florida goaltender will play Saturday for first time in a week

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Roberto Luongo will be back in net for the Florida Panthers when they face the Winnipeg Jets at BB&T Center on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, SN, NHL.TV). 

Panthers coach Gerard Gallant made the announcement after practice Friday.

Luongo hasn't played since allowing five goals on 28 shots last Saturday in a 5-0 loss against the Nashville Predators. The previous night, Luongo was pulled after the first period of a 5-3 loss against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on 13 shots. 

Al Montoya was in net for a 2-1 shootout victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday and a 2-1 shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, his first consecutive starts of the season. 

Luongo has allowed at least three goals in each of his five starts since he participated in the NHL All-Star Game. 

"The schedule is so busy during the season and you play so many games that practice time is limited, especially when you want to work on individual stuff," Luongo said Friday. "Sometimes little things creep into your game, and a week like this was good for me. Make sure that you get back to the basics, being strong on the shot and that you're in control. [Friday] was my best practice of the week, so just looking forward to get back in there [Saturday]." 

Gallant said center Aleksander Barkov and defenseman Erik Gudbranson were out for the game against Winnipeg, but could be options for the following game, against the Arizona Coyotes at BB&T Center next Thursday. 

Barkov has missed the past five games and Gudbranson has missed the past seven, each sidelined by an upper-body injury. 

"I'm not going to say they're playing next Thursday, but I would expect they'll be ready for next Thursday," Gallant said.

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