SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers are glad to have Roberto Luongo back in goal.
Luongo, who returned to the lineup after missing five games with a knee injury, earned his 77th career shutout and the Panthers beat the Boston Bruins 5-0 on Tuesday night.
Luongo made 33 saves and passed Ed Belfour and Tony Esposito for sole possession of ninth place on the NHL’s shutout list.
“It was great for Lou to be back in there,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “His rebound control was amazing. I’m happy for Lou — he moved into ninth all-time and he did it in nice fashion.”
Mike Hoffman scored twice. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists, and Mike Matheson and Evgenii Dadonov also scored. Aleksander Barkov had three assists and Keith Yandle added two.
“The boys did a great job,” Luongo said. “There weren’t a lot of breakdowns, a lot of odd-man rushes, breakaways, stuff like that. It really helps my game when we play like that defensively and it also translates in offense for our club. Take more of those, hopefully.”
The return of Luongo was a game-time decision, and it turned out to be the right call.
“It was a huge boost for the team,” Hoffman said. “He’s a solid goaltender. He definitely was a big part of this win.”
Jaroslav Halak made 39 saves as the Panthers had a season-high 44 shots on goal. The Bruins lost for the third time in four games.
“Tonight, it was men against boys at times, it looked like,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Some of our younger players had their hands full.”
Huberdeau made it 3-0. His shot from the left circle was blocked by Halak, but the puck trickled through his pads at 15:14 of the second period. Huberdeau has six consecutive multipoint games, one short of the franchise record set by Pavel Bure.
“Everything is working right now. It’s unbelievable,” Huberdeau said. “I want to try to keep it simple out there and it’s been working. I just want to keep doing that game after game.”
Hoffman’s second goal with five seconds left in the second on a power play made it 4-0. Hoffman has 26 points in his last 24 games.
“Tonight, we just didn’t execute in the second period and that cost us the game,” Halak said. “And we just have to regroup. That’s the bottom line. We need to find a way to win.”
Dadonov’s power-play goal with 5:34 remaining in the third made it 5-0.
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Hoffman scored the first goal of the night. With traffic in front, Halak lost track of the puck, which was sitting on his left side at the goal line until Hoffman poked it in at 4:21 of the second.
Matheson gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead when he brought the puck down the length of the ice and beat Halak on the stick side with a shot from the right circle at 13:13.
NOTES: The Panthers returned goaltender Michael Hutchinson to Springfield of the AHL. Hutchinson was on loan while Luongo was out. … Huberdeau has 299 points, surpassing Nathan Horton for fourth place in franchise history. … Bruins D Charlie McAvoy took part in the morning skate. McAvoy is not expected to play Thursday at Tampa Bay, but it hasn’t been ruled out, according to Cassidy.
Bruins: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Panthers: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.