SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers lost more than just the game on Monday night, as goaltender Roberto Luongo exited early after suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders at BB&T Center.
"He's hobbling a bit, lower body," coach Bob Boughner said of the injury. "He's going to be looked at tomorrow by our doctors and get an MRI and see what happens. Right now, he's going to be evaluated a little more tomorrow."
After coming in cold in place of Luongo, backup goalie James Reimer struggled to find his footing against the NHL's highest-scoring offense, allowing three goals on the first nine shots he faced.
"It's tough," Reimer said. "I obviously wish I would have played a little better in the second [period]. But that's how it goes sometimes. I thought we came out in the third, battled well, played really well as a team for most of the night and were able to salvage a point. Every point's valuable."
In the third, Reimer settled down and stood on his head, finishing the game 16 saves on 19 shots, including a spectacular save on Islanders rookie Mathew Barzal in overtime. In the shootout, however, the first-year forward got the last laugh, beating Reimer with a backhand to close out the game.
Reimer said a lack of game film on the 20-year-old wasn't a factor. "I like to just play every guy kind of honest and kind of react to what he presents," Reimer said of the shootout. "[I know] sometimes if a guy's a shooter or if he likes to deke or whatnot. It's not the biggest deal, not knowing what he's doing. My game is to come out, try and take away options and try and force him to beat you with a great shot."
Florida (10-13-4) has an off day tomorrow and will return to practice Wednesday at the Panthers IceDen in Coral Springs. That will likely be the first time an update on Luongo's status is given.
Here are five takeaways from Monday's shootout loss in Sunrise…
1. LUONGO INJURED
Roberto Luongo left Monday night's game early after suffering what appeared to be a lower-body injury early in the second period. The injury was non-contact, with Luongo falling to the ice after making a save on Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock. The veteran goaltender stayed down on the ice for several minutes before being helped to the locker room by two of Florida's trainers. It looked as if he was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he headed off. At 38, Luongo was in the midst of one of his best statistical seasons in recent memory, posting a 6-6-1 record with a .928 save percentage - his best since the 2010-11 season in Vancouver. "It's tough," forward Vincent Trocheck said. "Our No. 1 goalie has been standing up for us for the last four or five years. It's obviously tough whenever he goes down and to see him in so much pain."
2. DEFENSE CREATES OFFENSE
The Panthers got some offensive help from their blue line tonight, with both Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad finding the back of the net in regulation. It was the third time this season Florida's defensemen have contributed two goals in a game and the first since Mark Pysyk and Ian McCoshen each notched a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Nov. 2. The Panthers have received 14 goals from their blue liners this season, with Yandle and Ekblad each leading the way with four scores. "Anytime you can get secondary scoring it helps out," Yandle said. "Whenever else can help out, it probably takes a little weight off [our forwards] shoulders."
3. THEY HAVE THE POWER
The Panthers entered tonight's game with the league's 29th-ranked power play, converting on just 15.1 percent of their chances with the extra attacker. They were also 2-for-23 over their last nine games. On Monday, power play finally woke up, with Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov each scoring goals with the man advantage. It marked the third time the Panthers have scored two-or-more goals on the power play in a single game this season.
Video: NYI@FLA: Ekblad nets nice power-play goal
4. ANGRY ISLES
There's clearly no love lost between the Panthers and Islanders. After a very chippy game in Carolina on Saturday, Florida once again found itself in the middle of several altercations on Monday night. Following a bit of shoving and swearing in the first period, things came to a head in the second, where Cal Clutterbuck was eventually served a two-minute minor and a game misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct after slamming his stick on the bench and jawing a little too much at officials. Later, Jonathan Huberdeau and John Tavares had a brief altercation of their own near New York's bench, resulting in a two-minute roughing penalty for Huberdeau. "I think our team the last few games has really been stepping up," Trocheck said. "It shows a lot of balls in here that we have each other's backs. We have a lot of grit in here, even though we might not have the biggest team."
Islanders forward Anders Lee extended his goal streak to four games, scoring New York's first goal of the night at 13:51 of the first period. After Calvin de Haan fired a long shot from the blue, Lee jumped on the rebound and sent the puck through Luongo's five-hole to open the scoring. The goal was the 100th of his career.
BONUS: FIVE FRAMES
In five frames, here's how Denis Malgin's game-tying goal went down…