BOSTON (AP)—Roberto Luongo showed once again Monday night why many consider him the game’s best young goaltender.
Luongo made 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, leading the Florida Panthers past the Bruins 2-0 Monday night for Boston’s first regulation loss in 13 games.
“That was big for us as a team,” said coach John Torchetti. “We’d like to get to (Boston’s) level, but we’re just taking it step-by-step.”
Luongo was dominant from the opening faceoff until the final whistle en route to his 19th win of the season, one shy of a career high he set last season. In the second period he stopped a slap shot by Martin Lapointe with his right skate, then dived across an empty net and used his right arm to stop Patrice Bergeron from just outside the crease.
Luongo, who ranks second in the NHL in save percentage despite a losing record, allowed just three goals in four games against the Bruins this season.
“He’s like our sixth defenseman, and you know you can take extra chances,” said Hordichuk of Luongo. “That’s why he’s been an All-Star. If guys don’t think he’s the real deal, he’s proven them wrong.”
“I saw it coming at me, and then it went off a leg or a stick or something. I had no idea where it went,” said Raycroft. “I was still looking for it when it was in the net for 10 seconds.”
Lilja pushed Florida’s lead to 2-0 midway in the third period. Niklas Hagman slipped the puck through a pair of Boston defenders and onto Lilja’s stick, and he beat Raycroft with a backhander.
Boston fell in regulation for the first time since a 2-1 home loss to the Panthers on Jan. 24.
“We knew they always present challenges, and that’s something we certainly addressed,” Sullivan said. “I don’t think we played with as much energy as we have as of late, but I think we played hard.”
Raycroft made 30 saves, but lost for the second straight time head-to-head against Luongo, who downplayed his success against the Bruins this season.
“Sometimes you find yourself playing more comfortably against a team. This year, Boston’s one of them,” Luongo said.
Notes:@ Florida finished 2-0-2 against the Bruins this season. … Boston has been shut out seven times this season, with six at home, a franchise record. … Heavy metal band Godsmack, Boston natives, performed an acoustic show following the second period and after the game.