Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo suffers injury in season opener
TAMPA (AP) — The Florida Panthers not only lost their season opener, they lost goalie Roberto Luongo, too.
J.T Miller and Nikita Kucherov scored in the shootout and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Panthers 2-1 in the regular-season opener for both teams Saturday night.
Luongo departed midway through the second period with a lower-body injury after teammate Frank Vatrano landed on his extended right leg during a scramble in front of the goal. The 39-year-old Luongo, who stopped all 13 shots he faced in just over 32 minutes, needed help to skate off the ice.
“He had some ice on his knee,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “I don’t know how serious (the injury is). Hopefully that’s not going to be a long-term thing. They’re going to reassess it and I’ll know more tomorrow.”
James Reimer replaced Luongo and stopped 15 shots.
“He’s a battler and he’s a workhorse,” Reimer said. “Obviously you saw the position he was in when someone fell on him and you could just tell that it wasn’t an injury you could stay in the game.”
Luongo was also shaken up earlier in the second when he took a shot by Steven Stamkos off the mask.
Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made 42 saves in regulation. He made one save in the shootout and had another shot hit the post.
“They’re not all going to be pretty, but we’ll take it and we’ll move on,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.
The Lightning got a third-period, short-handed goal from Anthony Cirelli.
Tampa Bay was held scoreless over the final 159:27 in the 2018 Eastern Conference Final in which eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington rebounded from a one-game deficit to win Games 6 and 7.
Jacob MacDonald scored for the Panthers. Florida missed the playoffs by one point last season despite going 25-8-2 after the All-Star break.
Cirelli tied it at 1 by beating Reimer with 9:15 to play.
MacDonald scored at 5:58 of the first from the left circle on his first shift and shot in his first NHL game. The 25-year-old MacDonald is the sixth NHL player born in Oregon.
“That’s obviously your dream, to go out there and have a shift like that,” MacDonald said.
Florida center Derek MacKenzie left in the first period with an upper-body injury.