(SportsNetwork.com) – While Roberto Luongo’s injury isn’t believed to be
serious, the Florida Panthers will have to find a way to win without their No.
1 goaltender on Friday night when they play host to the Ottawa Senators.
Luongo has gone 7-5-5 with a 2.33 goals against average and .927 save
percentage in 17 starts this season, but won’t suit up tonight due to an
upper-body injury suffered in Wednesday’s 1-0 win over the Carolina
Luongo exited halfway through the game after making 11 saves, while Al Montoya
made 22 saves to preserve the shutout victory. Montoya needed to be sharp off
the bench as Florida only managed Nick Bjugstad’s goal 21 seconds into the
Brandon Pirri and Jonathan Huberdeau were credited with assists on Bjugstad’s
goal as Florida moved to 2-1-1 in its last four games.
“We figured out a way to win, that’s the main thing,” said Bjugstad, who has
six goals in his last six games.
Montoya will start tonight and is 1-2-0 with a 2.94 GAA and .902 save
percentage in five previous meetings with the Senators, including three
starts. He’ll be backed up by Dan Ellis, who was recalled from the American
Hockey League on Thursday.
The good news is that Luongo is only day-to-day.
“It’s not real serious,” head coach Gerard Gallant told the Miami Herald of
Luongo’s injury. “I think he’s better, he felt good [Friday]. It’s not a big
Luongo made 22 saves in a 1-0 home loss to Ottawa on Oct. 15, with the
Senators getting a goal from Clarke MacArthur and 30 saves by Craig Anderson.
The Senators have won 14 of their past 18 versus the Panthers and eight of
their last 11 trips to Florida.
Anderson is expected to start again tonight and is an excellent 11-2-1 in his
career versus the Panthers with a 1.93 GAA, .938 save percentage and three
shutouts. He spent three seasons playing with Florida, starting in 2006-07.
Ottawa snapped a two-game slide and won for just the third time in nine games
with Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout decision over the St. Louis Blues. Alex Chiasson
scored a game-tying goal with 41 seconds left and Bobby Ryan had the lone
tally in the tiebreaker.
Senators goalie Robin Lehner made 27 saves in the win and Erik Condra added
his first goal of the season.
“This is a real momentum builder for us,” Sens head coach Paul MacLean said.
MacLean made forwards Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad both healthy scratches
on Tuesday after playing in Ottawa’s first 20 games. Michalek, who has just
two goals on the season, will draw back into the lineup tonight, but Zibanejad
will likely be scratched again.
The 21-year-old Zibanejad, the sixth overall pick of the 2011 draft, has three
goals and six points on the season.
Ottawa plays the third contest of a five-game road trip tonight and visits the
Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.