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Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers stop Carolina Hurricanes in shootout

By
Walter Villa, The Sports Xchange
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo scoops up the loose puck in front of the net in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 1, 2015. Florida defeated St. Louis 4-1. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo scoops up the loose puck in front of the net in the third period against the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on December 1, 2015. Florida defeated St. Louis 4-1. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Aleksander Barkov's shootout attempt seemed to take forever.

He skated way out to the right, came back center and stick-handled about 20 times before pulling Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward out of position and tapping in the puck on the open right side.

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The officials reviewed the play to make sure Barkov didn't retreat at any point in his approach. But the officials ultimately confirmed the goal, making Barkov 5-for-8 on shootouts this season.

"All credit to Rob Tallas," Barkov said of the former NHL goaltender who is now a goalie consultant for the Florida Panthers. "It was his move."

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Jonathan Huberdeau also scored in the shootout, going five-hole, as Florida snapped a four-game home losing streak, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night at the BB&T Center.

Slumping Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo, who got only his third start in the past seven games, made 23 saves in regulation and overtime and also stopped both shots he saw in the shootout, from Lee Stempniak and Sebastian Aho.

Luongo now has 453 career wins, two short of passing Curtis Joseph for fourth place in NHL history. However, this was just Luongo's fourth win in his past 10 starts.

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Florida (29-23-10) got regulation goals from Jaromir Jagr and Vincent Trocheck. Jagr, 45, has 12 goals this season and 761 in his stellar career. Trocheck has a team-best 22 goals this season.

The Hurricanes (25-25-9), who are in last place in the Metropolitan Division, got solid goaltending from Ward. He made 29 saves plus one in the shootout, but Carolina fell to 1-5-2 in its past eight games.

Carolina got goals from Stempniak, his 11th, in the second period and Aho, who tied the score 2-2 on his rebound with 5:48 expired in the third.

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Aho's goal, his 18th, came after a shot by Victor Rask that helped send the game to overtime. Aho simply beat Florida defenseman Alex Petrovic to the rebound.

"It was a reaction play," Aho said. "I just tried to go for the goal."

Florida dominated the first period, grabbing a 2-0 lead. After Carolina got the first two shots on goal, Florida produced the next 11 and outshot the Hurricanes 11-3, tying a Panthers season record for the fewest shots allowed in a period.

The Panthers got on the board with 12:35 elapsed in the first on Jagr's power-play goal. A Carolina penalty -- too many men on the ice -- opened the way for Huberdeau to thread a left-to-right pass to Jagr in the slot. Jagr beat Ward five-hole.

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"They are the superstars," Jagr said when asked about the contributions of Huberdeau and Barkov. "That's their job to do."

Four minutes later, Florida made it 2-0 when Trocheck pounced on a rebound off a shot by Reilly Smith. Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce tried to clear the puck, but Trocheck beat him there.

With 11:21 left in the second period, Florida nearly made it 3-0 on an apparent rebound goal by Nick Bjugstad. But a quick whistle saved Ward.

That proved important as Carolina scored a little over one minute later. Teuvo Teravainen slipped a right-to-left pass to Stempniak, who tapped in an easy goal into the open left side of the net.

"I saw (Stempniak) was going backdoor," Teravainen said. "I tried to put a little sauce in there, and, luckily, it went in."

Aho's alert goal helped send the game to overtime, where Barkov, Huberdeau and Luongo stood tall.

Barkov said Huberdeau, who missed the first three-plus months of the season due to injury, has helped lift Florida.

"When he came back, the whole team was excited -- he's one of the best players in this team and in this league," Barkov said of Huberdeau, who has 11 points in 11 games this season. "We have pretty good chemistry with him and Jagr. We enjoy playing with each other."

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NOTES: Carolina C Jeff Skinner (upper-body injury) was a last-minute scratch. ... Carolina traded LW Viktor Stalberg to the Ottawa Senators for a 2017 third-round pick. ... Carolina LW Brock McGinn, who took a hard shot in the first minute of the game, did not play after the second period due to an upper-body injury. ... Florida put rookie C Denis Malgin in the lineup for the first time since recalling him on Sunday. ... Florida scratched LW Shawn Thornton and D Jakub Kindl. ... The last time Carolina and Florida played, the host Hurricanes won 3-2 on Nov. 27, and the Panthers fired coach Gerard Gallant soon after the game. ... Up next, Florida visits the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. ... Carolina visits the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

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