Roberto Luongo honoured, then beats Canucks in return
Panthers netminder brilliant against former club
The Vancouver Canucks paid a special tribute to Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo Thursday night at Rogers Arena during a first-period timeout.
Luongo spent eight seasons with the Canucks before last season’s trade that sent the veteran netminder to Florida.
The video tribute showed some highlights of Luongo with Vancouver, including the series-clinching game that propelled the Canucks to the Stanley Cup final in 2011.
An emotional Luongo headed straight to the bench, didn’t watch the tribute, but waved to the crowd after skating back to the Panthers' net. The veteran netminder also received a standing ovation and the familiar "Loo" chant. He was also cheered on by his former teammates at the Vancouver bench.
"I just wanted to give my thanks, my appreciation for not only the welcome, but for the eight years," Luongo said of the first-period salute. "There's a lot of memories in those eight years and it was just my way to thank the fans."
Fans joining us tonight in <a href="https://twitter.com/RogersArena">@RogersArena</a> - you'll see a special tribute for Roberto Luongo in the 1st TV timeout. <a href="http://t.co/KGQLzDQv11">pic.twitter.com/KGQLzDQv11</a>—@VanCanucks
Luongo takes over
With the pleasantries over and the Canucks leading 1-0 after the video tribute, Luongo and the Panthers took over. The Panthers scored three unanswered goals en route to a 3-1 win. But the story — who else? — was Luongo. The veteran made several terrific stops, including three great chances by Canucks forward Alex Burrows.
Vancouver players can’t use a lack of scoring opportunities as an excuse for its loss, especially in the third period. The Canucks had a two-man advantage as a result of a four-minute minor penalty given to Panthers forward Dave Bolland, only to have Luongo shut the door. He would finish the game stopping 32 of 33 shots.
"The crowd was great. All in all I don't think I could have asked for anything more," said Luongo. "I was hearing the Loos when I made big saves, that was nice, it brought back good memories."
Moments later, Vancouver winger Derek Dorsett shoved Panthers defenceman – and former Canuck – Willie Mitchell into Luongo, who took exception, throwing a couple of blocker punches at the winger.
Roberto Luongo getting feisty with his old squad <a href="https://t.co/uyvkV9Qmt5">https://t.co/uyvkV9Qmt5</a>—@PeteBlackburn
First visit to Rogers Arena
Luongo made his first visit to Rogers Arena since the trade. He was the first player on the ice for either team prior to puck drop.
Luongo spent a few days in Vancouver before Thursday night’s contest, fulfilling media requests and visiting with former teammates.
Through his eight seasons with the Canucks, Luongo left a lasting legacy for the city of Vancouver — mostly good, but some bad.
The veteran netminder is the Canucks’ all-time leader in wins (252) and shutouts (38). Thursday night's win gave Luongo 389 for his career, tying him for 11th place all-time with Dominik Hasek.
For a look back at the ups and downs of Bobby Lou's time in Vancouver, click here.
Roberto Luongo salutes the crowd following his video tribute from the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canucks?src=hash">#Canucks</a>. <a href="http://t.co/P0OWQLU13p">pic.twitter.com/P0OWQLU13p</a>—@shnarped
What a tremendously wonderful tribute video put together by <a href="https://twitter.com/VanCanucks">@VanCanucks</a> in honor of <a href="https://twitter.com/strombone1">@strombone1</a> Roberto Luongo. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AllClass?src=hash">#AllClass</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LOU?src=hash">#LOU</a>!—@Eric_Munter
With files from The Canadian Press