SUNRISE, FLORIDA – Robert Luongo’s return to Florida couldn’t have been better.
Luongo made 25 saves, while Dmitry Kulikov and Jesse Winchester each scored power-play goals to lead the Panthers over the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 on Friday night.
Luongo, acquired in a trade with Vancouver on Tuesday, was in net for the first time for Florida since April 18, 2006. Luongo previously played for Florida from 2000-2006.
“Kudos to all the guys in front of me tonight. It was really a team effort,” Luongo said. “Shutouts are always nice, but at the end of the day it’s about the wins. We did a good job.”
Luongo received a warm reception from the fans, with chants of “Louuuuu” resonating from the stands after every save.
“It was nice. It was a great reception right off the start of the game,” Luongo said.
It was the fourth shutout of the season for Luongo. His last was on Dec. 13, a 4-0 win for Vancouver over Edmonton in which he made 19 saves. It was the first regular-season shutout for the Panthers since a 2-0 win over Carolina on March 11, 2012,in which Jose Theodore had 34 saves.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 42 shots in his first start for Buffalo since being acquired from Washington last Wednesday. It was a great performance by Neuvirth, seeing his first action since before the Olympic break.
“This was my first time with a new team; for sure I was nervous,” Neuvirth said. “I’ve been practicing hard, but a game is a different story.”
Florida won for just the second time in seven games.
Buffalo dropped its second game in its last six.
Rangers 4, Hurricanes 2
In Raleigh, North Carolina, Derek Stepan scored on a 5-on-3 power play with 2:45 left in the game.
Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh scored earlier for the Rangers, who beat Carolina for the 10th straight time, and Carl Hagelin added an empty-netter with 41 seconds to go.
Red Wings 7, Devils 4
In Detroit, Johan Franzen had two goals and two assists, Gustav Nyquist a goal and three assists and David Legwand a goal and two assists.
Brendan Smith, Kyle Quincey and Drew Miller also scored for Detroit. Jonas Gustavsson made 21 saves.
Flames 4, Islanders 3
In Calgary, Joe Colborne scored twice during a furious third period comeback for the Flames, who got three goals in less than five minutes.
Colborne got the comeback started at 11:29 when Mark Giordano’s point shot missed the net, but the puck caromed out sharply to Colborne. He fired it in the open side on rookie goaltender Anders Nilsson.
Penguins 3, Ducks 2 (SO)
In Anaheim, Evgeni Malkin scored the tying goal during a power play in the third period and Brandon Sutter got the deciding goal in a six-round shootout.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland scored in the first period for Pittsburgh.