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5 Takeaways: Luongo Stonewalls Oilers, leads Panthers to 2nd Straight Win

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/8/18 Post Game Interviews

11/8/18 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Bob Boughner, Roberto Luongo, Mike Hoffman and Colton Sceviour

  • 01:14 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers are a different team with Roberto Luongo in net.

In his second start since returning from a knee injury suffered in the season opener on Oct. 6, Luongo made 26 saves to lead the Panthers to their second straight victory and first on home ice with a 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night at BB&T Center.

With Edmonton flying in the first period, the 39-year-old made several highlight-reel grabs to keep the game scoreless heading into the first intermission, including an absolute robbery on Oilers forward Ty Rattie, whose premature celebration was halted by Luongo's strong glove. 

Video: EDM@FLA: Luongo stretches for incredible glove save

"He was the best player on the ice tonight," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "I was a little worried about us starting slow in the first 5-10 minutes, but Lu gave us a chance. He stopped two or three big-time chances. That's what he does. It's nice to have that. I think it pumped us up a little bit, gave us time to get a little better. I think by the end of the first, early second, we started playing."

In three appearances this season, Luongo has stopped 71 of 74 shots.

"Right away tonight I felt that I was reading the plays well," said Luongo, who is in the midst of his 19th NHL season. "A couple backdoors where I was able to see the guy out of the corner of my eye, so I was able to react when the pass went across. After that, the boys took over and I thought we played a really good game."

After surviving a few close calls in the first, the Panthers blew the game open in the second period, as Evgenii Dadonov and Nick Bjugstad lit the lamp just 1:27 apart to give Florida a 2-0 lead heading into the final frame. And although Leon Draisaitl scored 23 seconds into the third for the Oilers, Jonathan Huberdeau and Colton Sceviour answered to secure the two points.

Riding a two-game winning streak, Florida (4-5-3) will now play 13 games in 23 days.

"It's nice to get on a bit of a roll here," Luongo said. "Like I said after last game, I think we've got to make it happen on the ice. It's not just going to happen. We've got to keep pushing hard and keep doing the things we've been doing the last couple games."

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Sunrise…

1. DON'T LOOK NOW

This deserves another look - or several.

After a scoreless first period, the Panthers turned to their top line to break the ice in the second, as Aleksander Barkov sent a beautiful no-look backhand pass to Dadonov, who then utilized a nifty deke in front of the net to slip the puck past Cam Talbot and make it 1-0 at 6:45.

"I saw Barkov driving through the middle," said Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, who started the sequence when he carried the puck into the offensive zone. "Obviously they're good playmakers, and Daddy made a great finish."

Video: EDM@FLA: Barkov sets up Dadonov for gorgeous goal

For Dadonov, the highlight-reel goal was his third in as many games and extended his career-best point streak to nine contests. The 29-year-old Russian import leads all Panthers in scoring this season with 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in 12 games.

"He's a good player," Hoffman said of Dadonov. "He can make plays and he can finish them off as well. He plays well defensively, and if we do that, we can get chances going the other way."

2. HISTORY FOR HOFFMAN

It took a few games, but Hoffman has made himself at home in South Florida.

By picking up the secondary assist on Dadonov's goal, Hoffman extended his team-best point streak to a career-high 10 games. He also became just the fourth skater in franchise history to register a point streak of at least 10 games, joining Pavel Bure, Olli Jokinen and Jussi Jokinen.

"I guess it's good," Hoffman said of the streak. "I'm trying to help this team win as many games as possible. You get a couple lucky bounces for a few points over a streak like that; you need it for it to happen. I'm just happy we got the two points tonight."

In the midst of his first season with the Panthers, Hoffman leads the team in power-play goals (3) and shots (43). He also ranks second in goals (6) and is tied for third in points (11) while seeing 17:10 of ice time a game.

"His offense speaks for itself," Boughner said. "He's got a gift and he sees the ice very well."

3. A BOUNCE FOR BJUGY

This is what happens when you somehow ignore the 6-foot-6 man in the middle of the ice.

Just 1:27 after Dadonov put the Panthers up 1-0, Bjugstad doubled the lead, sneaking into the crease before pouncing on a loose puck in front of the net and pounding it home to make it 2-0 at 8:12 of the second period. With the goal, Bjugstad's point streak reached three games.

Video: EDM@FLA: Bjugstad beats Talbot in front

Despite dropping down from the first to third line, Bjugstad continues to produce for the Cats. In two games since the change, the 26-year-old has registered a goal and an assist to up his point total to seven (three goals, four assists) through 12 games - making him the seventh-highest scorer on the Panthers.

"It's a different look," Boughner said of his re-tooled lines. "I think it makes us a deeper team. I think that Bjugy gets better matchups against different D in the lineup. He's a big, strong guy. He used his body well tonight, and he took pucks to the net hard. I liked every line tonight."

4. POWER POINTS

Florida's power play keeps on rolling.

Holding onto a slim 2-1 lead early in the third period, a slashing penalty from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sent the Panthers to their third man advantage of the night. As the Panthers have done consistently in recent games, they took full advantage of their golden opportunity with the extra attacker.

With Vincent Trocheck controlling the puck in the right circle, Talbot dropped down, screened by Barkov and likely expecting a shot. Instead Trocheck slyly passed to Huberdeau, who fired a wrist shot from the left circle into the unattended net to make it 3-1 at 3:43 of the final frame.

Video: EDM@FLA: Huberdeau buries PPG from the high slot

"I think special teams was the difference tonight," Boughner said. "I think things are starting to roll our way."

Entering the night with the league's third-ranked power play since Oct. 24, the Panthers will likely move up that list after a 1-for-4 performance against the Oilers. After staring the year 0-for-13, they have gone 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) with the man advantage in their last five outings.

5. DAD STRENGTH

It's been quite a week for Sceviour.

After welcoming his first child on Tuesday, the 29-year-old forward and newly-minted father had another big night on Thursday, cashing in on an empty net to put the game out of reach for the Panthers with his second goal of season to extend the lead to 4-1 at 19:11 of the third period.

"It's obviously been a bit of a whirlwind," said Sceviour, who also chipped in two shots on goal and one blocked shot against Edmonton. "It's been a crazy week, but it's been a blast. I'm pretty excited. It's fun. Now it's back into hockey and going forward."

Asked about the goal, Boughner said he specifically put Sceviour out there for the open net.

Video: EDM@FLA: Sceviour pots empty-netter from neutral zone

"I was happy for him," Boughner said. "We sort of talked about that as coaches on the bench, with the empty net, giving him a chance. He had some good blocks tonight and he played well. He's that guy, we can bring him up and down the lineup. Especially when the game is tight and we're protecting leads, he's the perfect guy to put out there. Nice to see it."

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