SUNRISE, Fla. - Roberto Luongo made 33 saves in leading the Florida Panthers to a big 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at BB&T Center, taking his place between the pipes immediately after delivering an emotional pre-game speech honoring the victims of last week's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
"I'd been thinking about it the last two days," Luongo said of the speech. "It was mostly on my mind. It's tough to focus on the game because I wanted to make sure I got my message across. I'm glad that everything worked out well."
Luongo's speech lasted just under three minutes, bringing many in the crowd to tears as the 38-year-old detailed his love of Parkland and his appreciation for the students and teachers that have been affected by the senseless tragedy.
"The first 10 minutes of the game was very difficult, to be honest with you," said Luongo, who stopped all 14 shots he faced in the first period. "I was very not as in the zone is a good way to put it.
"Obviously, still emotions running from high from the ceremony. I'm happy they didn't score, and then I was able to settle down and play my game. I think we had a little from help from above on those last couple goals in the third there."
Vincent Trocheck scored the game-winning goal for the Panthers, redirecting Jonathan Huberdeau's shot while standing in the slot to give Florida a 3-2 lead with 18.7 seconds left in regulation.
"It was a special night," Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. "A pretty somber feeling after the ceremony and trying to get going after that and trying to start off the period after that with intensity.
"There was a lot of emotion going on. I thought that Louie did a heck of a job on his speech. To get in net and to throw a performance like that out after [his speech], was one of the most impressive things I've seen in a long time."
Here are five takeaways from Thursday's win in Sunrise…
1. BJUGSTAD COMES UP BIG
With the Panthers trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Nick Bjugstad put himself in the right place at the right time. After Aleksander Barkov skated through a pair of defenders, he sent a pass towards the net that deflected off Bjugstad's skate and in to tie the game at 2 at 16:18 of the third period. The goal was Bjugstad's 11th of the season, but just his second in 24 games. "I was just going towards the net and Barky threw it at the net," Bjugstad said. "Luckily it went in. It was kind of weathering the storm against these guys tonight. That's a good team." Although the goals haven't always been there this season, Bjugstad has been carving out a role for himself as one of Florida's better playmakers, notching two goals and six assists over his last 10 games. Bjugstad's greatest contribution of the night, however, came even later in the period, when he drew an interference penalty that led to the eventual game-winning goal.
Video: WSH@FLA: Bjugstad deflects in Barkov's pass
2. TROCHECK FOR THE WIN
After Bjugstad drew an interference penalty on Capitals forward Lars Eller, the Panthers had 42 seconds on the power play at their disposal before the game would head to overtime - they only needed 22. After Huberdeau fired a shot towards the net from just below the blue line, Trocheck knocked it in on a redirection from the slot, giving Florida a 3-2 lead with 18.7 seconds left in regulation. The goal was Trocheck's team-leading 23rd of the season and his fifth in the last six games. "It was very emotional," Trocheck said. "It was a powerful game. A powerful speech before the game by Lu. Powerful meaning behind the game. The fans were great. The team played great in the third period there, showed a lot of character coming back. To be able to put that in the net at the end of the game, it was exciting." Trocheck now leads the Panthers with four game-winning goals this season.
Video: WSH@FLA: Trocheck puts Panthers ahead late with PPG
3. MY MAMIN!
Maxim Mamin opened up the scoring on Thursday night, scoring the first goal of his NHL career after tapping in a rebound on the doorstep to put the Panthers up 1-0 at 4:50 of the first period. The goal was also Mamin's first NHL point, which came in the Russian winger's eighth game. A sixth-round pick (175th overall) in the 2016 NHL Draft, Mamin, 23, was recalled by the Panthers in January after recording nine goals and 16 assists in 32 games with the organization's AHL affiliate in Springfield. "It was nice to see," Boughner said. "We thought long and hard about wanting to get some fresh legs in there… he was definitely fresh. You could tell he had some jump early and it was nice to see him get paid off."
Video: WSH@FLA: Mamin pots first career NHL goal
In their first home game since a tragic shooting claimed the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in nearby Parkland, the Panthers paid tribute to the victims through a variety of different ways. In warmups, players from both teams donned Stoneman Douglas' hats, while Florida also sported "MSD" elbow patches and helmet decals bearing the school's logo - a tradition they will continue throughout the remainder of the season. The dasher boards - normally occupied by sponsors - instead read "Stoneman Douglas" and "MSDSTRONG." The strongest moment, however, came when the team unveiled a special video tribute, honoring each of the individual victims with a quote submitted by family and friends describing who they were or what they believed in. The video was followed by an extended moment of silence. "It's obviously a very tough situation," Bjugstad said. "For us to go out and win, it's fun but it's just a game. What happened in this past week was really tough for us and I can't imagine how tough it is for the families and people attending that school. We're here for the kids of Parkland, of all the schools around here."
Video: Panthers honor victims in Parkland tragedy
5. LUONGO TAKES THE MIC
A longtime Parkland resident, Luongo addressed the crowd prior to puck drop in an effort to attempt to put into words all of the emotions he, his teammates and the community were going through. He succeeded. "I just want to start off by saying that I live in Parkland," he said. "I've been living there for the past 12 years. My wife was born and raised in that area. My kids go to school in Parkland. When I'm done playing hockey, I want to spend the rest of my life in Parkland. I love that city." For just under three minutes, Luongo poured out his heart and soul in remembrance of the 17 victims, specifically highlighting the heroics of the teachers who sheltered and shielded their students from gunfire. "Some of them didn't make it, trying to protect children," he said. "That is truly what a hero is. Those people need to be put on a pedestal for the rest of their lives."
You can watch and read Luongo's entire speech below.
Video: Roberto Luongo on love for Parkland, honoring victims