If you didn’t watch the Florida Panthers-Toronto Maple Leafs game Tuesday night, you missed one of the oddest third periods in recent memory.
Roberto Luongo started for the Panthers but didn’t return after the first intermission after taking a shot to the shoulder/neck area. Al Montoya came on in relief, but then injured himself during a Toronto goal early in the third period. With Luongo still in the dressing room, Florida faced an interesting predicament: who would play goal?
Officials halted the game as the Panthers attempted to figure out what to do. Scottie Upshall and Derek McKenzie ran back to the dressing room with everyone believing one of them would suit up. It turned out, they weren’t needed, as Montoya would re-enter the game, but it was obvious he was hurting.
With Montoya back, the Panthers still wanted to have some insurance in case another change was needed, so they called upon 41-year old goaltending coach Robb Tallas, who last played in the NHL in 2001 and retired from the game in 2005 after spending some time in Europe.
The Panthers actually needed NHL approval to dress Tallas, as per Rule 5.3:
"In regular League and Playoff games, if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible. This goalkeeper is eligible to sit on the player’s bench, in uniform. In the event that the two regular goalkeepers are injured or incapacitated in quick succession, the third goalkeeper shall be provided with a reasonable amount of time to get dressed, in addition to a two-minute warm-up."
In this situation, the League approved Florida's request to dress goaltending coach Robb Tallas.
"We were really concerned, playing a good game and lose both goalies boom, boom,'' said Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant, via the Miami Herald. "There was a lot of confusion going on."
But the fun didn't stop there. After Montoya's allowed Toronto's go-ahead goal, Luongo appeared from the dressing room in his gear and took over for the final 9:08 of the 3-2 defeat. (Luongo, by the way, stopped all 19 shots he faced during the game.)
This wasn’t the first time the Panthers needed Tallas’ help. In March 2013, with starter Jose Theodore injured, the team called up Jacob Markstrom from their AHL affiliate in San Antonio. Thanks to United Airlines the netminder’s gear was lost, so he arrived to the rink empty-handed. Scott Clemmenson would play the entire game — a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes — and Tallas would participate in warmups and watch from the bench. Oddly enough, that also occurred on a March 3rd.
Next March 3rd I will be nowhere near a hockey rink #coincidence— Robb Tallas (@robbtallas) March 4, 2015
After Tuesday's game, Montoya and Luongo weren't available to the media as they were receiving medical treatment. Panthers GM Dale Tallon said that Montoya's injury was serious enough that the team will be recalling a netminder from the AHL.
The Panthers missed out on a big two points with the loss. They remain two points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, with the Bruins owning two games in-hand.
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