CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Florida Panthers starting goaltender Roberto Luongo will miss "an extended period of time" with a lower-body injury, head coach Bob Boughner announced on Wednesday.
"It's going to be an extended period of time," Boughner said after practice at the Panthers IceDen. "Whether that's three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, that's going to [depend on how] his rehab goes, that kind of thing. [He's] definitely out for a while."
Luongo left Monday's 5-4 shootout loss to the New York Islanders early in the second period after making what appeared to be a routine save on defenseman Ryan Pulock. After spending several minutes lying on the ice, visibly in pain, he was helped to the dressing room by two of Florida's trainers, placing no weight on his right leg.
In order to fill their vacant spot in net, the Panthers recalled Harri Sateri from their AHL affiliate in Springfield, Mass., on Wednesday morning. Sateri, 27, posted a 5-6-1 record with a .906 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average in 12 games with the Thunderbirds.
"I'm excited. It's good to be back here," said Sateri, who spent the past three seasons with Vityaz Podolsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. "I had a couple good games down in Springfield and I feel comfortable to come here. Obviously it's always a bad thing when someone gets hurt, but this is an opportunity for me and I'm happy about it."
Sateri was called up once previously this season, when Luongo missed six games with an injury to his right hand. He served as a backup for two games before the Panthers claimed Antti Niemi off waivers in October. After Luongo's return, the club waived Niemi on Nov. 13 and he was claimed by Montreal.
Boughner said that although Sateri is capable of playing some games, the team will "definitely look at other options out there" in order to fill their goaltending void.
"We're trying to find a fit," he said.
If the Panthers opt to take a conservative approach with Sateri and deploy him only when the team is playing in back-to-back games, his debut could come as early as Dec. 11 in Detroit or Dec. 12 in Chicago. "Now I'm more confident and hopefully I stay here," Sateri said.
In the meantime, backup goaltender James Reimer will once again ascend to the starting role under unfortunate circumstances. When Luongo was out earlier in the season with his aforementioned hand injury, Reimer went 2-2-1 with a .894 save percentage while allowing four-or-more goals in three of six appearances.
Reimer stopped 16 of 19 shots after Luongo exited Monday's game.
"It's unfortunate," Reimer said. "Lu's started a lot. He's a great goalie and a great guy. When someone gets hurts, especially your goalie partner like that, it sucks, it hurts, and you don't wish that on anyone, obviously. Hopefully he comes back quick and he can keep going on with his legendary career so far. In his absence, yeah, I'll probably be playing a few more games. I'm looking forward to it and looking forward to putting up a couple wins here."
After a sluggish start, Reimer has been trending in the right direction in recent games, posting a 1-2-1 record with a .903 save percentage over his last four starts, including a 44-save performance in Carolina on Dec. 2.
With the Panthers (10-13-4) currently five points behind Montreal for third place in a wide-open Atlantic Division, Reimer said he's feeling no added pressure to fill Luongo's considerably large skates. "I don't know if you want to put too much pressure on yourself as a group," Reimer said. "You're not content where you are, you're not content losing and whatnot. You put a healthy amount of fire in your belly, for lack of a better word. But there's no panic. There's no clutching your stick or something like that."
"We're a confident group and we know what we can do. Personally, I know the kind of goaltender I can be, and you just believe in that. You have a confidence in that and you go to the rink with that belief."