Fittingly enough, Florida Panthers’ goalie Roberto Luongo will celebrate his 1,000th career game against his Vancouver Canucks squad. Here’s what you need to know for game No. 5.
And as luck would have it, Luongo just happens to be celebrating his 1,000th NHL game tonight. It’s either a win against his former team, or a complete spoiler on Vancouver’s end. It promises to be a great game with plenty of emotions on both sides.
Luongo was traded to Florida during the 2013-14 season. The only former teammates in Vancouver he’s going up against tonight? Chris Tanev and Alexander Edler. There will be no more classy gestures from the Sedins to honour their old comrade here.
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The 39-year-old Luongo is Vancouver’s all-time leader in wins (252), and shutouts (38). He guided the Canucks to six Northwest Division titles, two Presidents’ Trophies and a trip to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final.
Now, Luongo is nearing the end of his career, still trying to find a way in leading Florida to the promised land. They’re 0-1-1 to start the season, while the Canucks have split their first four games.
The Panthers have only made the playoffs once since re-acquiring Luongo almost five years ago. Their Atlantic Division-winning season in 2015-16 went to waste after the New York Islanders took them down in the opening round of the playoffs.
After Saturday’s game, the Canucks have two more daunting contests on the road trip before they finally head home: Tuesday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins and Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. A win on Saturday would go a long way.
Rookie Elias Pettersson leads the team in scoring (who else), with seven points through his first four games. Defenceman Alexander Edler has four points to open the season, and he’ll look to stay hot vs. the Panthers tonight. Watch and see if head coach Travis Green gives the 32-year-old over 25 minutes in this one.
It’ll be a chills-inducing moment when the Canucks and Panthers take part to congratulate Luongo on his 1,000th game. But after the friendly meeting at center ice, it’s time for Vancouver to try and pick up its third win of 2018-19.