Elite company: Roberto Luongo plays in 1,000th NHL game
Panthers veteran becomes only 3rd goalie to reach milestone
Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo entered some elite company Thursday.
The 39-year-old Montreal native became just the third netminder in NHL history to play his 1,000th game, joining Hall of Famers Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy, when he suited up in the team's 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.
"It wasn't easy. I was feeling a little bit sluggish today for some reason, but tell you what, the boys probably played their best game of the year," Luongo told reporters after the game. "That's the best gift the boys could have given me."
Only two goalies have played more than 1,000 games before tonight... now <a href="https://twitter.com/strombone1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@strombone1</a>'s the third. 👏<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NHLMilestones?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NHLMilestones</a> via <a href="https://twitter.com/SAPSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@SAPSports</a>: <a href="https://t.co/fxolRFPtzU">https://t.co/fxolRFPtzU</a> <a href="https://t.co/UopGW073OV">pic.twitter.com/UopGW073OV</a>—@NHL
Despite the achievement, Luongo has stressed that the team's chase for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference is of greater importance. The 42-30-8 Panthers have 92 points with two games remaining, four behind the Philadelphia Flyers, who have one games left.
"It's a nice milestone," Luongo told reporters earlier this week.
"But the most important thing is that we have three crucial games left. My focus is on the games right now."
Florida and Philadelphia are tied with 39 regulation plus overtime wins, the first tiebreaking criteria should the teams have the same number of points by the end of the regular season Saturday. The second criteria is head-to-head play in the regular season and the Panthers took the three-game series two games to one, buoyed by Luongo's 39-save performance in a 4-1 victory on March at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.
He has proven to be a dominant player and an exemplary leader. His dedication to his family, his teammates and the game of hockey is second to none.— Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon on goaltender Roberto Luongo
Luongo is the 322nd player in NHL history to reach 1,000 games and the 11th in Panthers' history. Greg Adams, Radek Dvorak, Mike Foligno, Chris Gratton, Brian Campbell, Bryan McCabe, Scott Mellanby, Kirk Muller, Lyle Odelein and Cory Stillman are the others.
Luongo has competed in seven NHL playoffs, including 2016 with Florida, which bowed to the New York Islanders in six games in the opening round after topping the Atlantic Division with 103 points. He started 62 post-season contests for the Vancouver, leading the Canucks to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, where they dropped Game 7 to Boston.
"We look forward to honouring his accomplishment at the start of next season [as part of the organization's 25th anniversary celebration] with his family, friends and the entire Panthers family," Florida general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement released by the team.
"Throughout his career, he has proven to be a dominant player and an exemplary leader. His dedication to his family, his teammates and the game of hockey is second to none."
3-time Vezina Trophy nominee
Luongo sports a 34-35 record in the Stanley Cup playoffs with five shutouts, 2.49 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Drafted fourth overall by the Islanders in 1997, he ranks third all-time in games played, fourth in wins (470), seventh in career save percentage (.919) and is tied for ninth in shutouts (76) over 18 seasons with New York, Vancouver and Florida.
The six-foot-three, 217-pound puckstopper is a three-time nominee for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie and twice has been nominated for the Lester B. Pearson Award, now the Ted Lindsay Award, as most outstanding player voted by the NHL Players' Association. Luongo also received a 2007 Hart Memorial Trophy nomination as league MVP.
Oh man. <a href="https://twitter.com/strombone1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@strombone1</a> is ridiculous. <a href="https://t.co/lFQVRbAf5U">pic.twitter.com/lFQVRbAf5U</a>—@NHL
In two stints with Florida, the five-time all-star has led the team to an Atlantic title in 2016 while tying his franchise single-season wins record of 35 in the midst of the Panthers' best-ever season. Luongo is Florida's all-time leader in wins (211), shutouts (37) and games played by a goalie (527).
A two-time Olympic and world champion, he guided the Canucks to two Presidents' Trophies (2011, 2012) as the NHL's leading team in points and six Pacific Division titles, the most recent in 2013.
On Sept. 30, 2008, Vancouver made Luongo the first goalie to be named a team captain since Bill Durnan served in the role with the Montreal Canadiens in the in 1947-48 campaign.
With files from The Associated Press