SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Roberto Luongo likes playing in San Jose. After making 35 saves for his 74th career shutout, he has even more reason to enjoy it.
Luongo was rock solid as the Florida Panthers blanked the Sharks 2-0 Thursday night on goals by Colton Sceviour and Nick Bjugstad.
”The first 40 minutes was probably some of the best hockey we’ve played, system-wise,” Luongo said. ”No matter what the situation was in the game, we didn’t deviate from our system. Even though we had the lead, we still kept playing the right way. We didn’t sit back and try to protect.”
Florida coach Bob Boughner won in his return to San Jose. He served as an assistant coach for the Sharks the last two years.
”The two points are the most important thing to me,” Boughner said. ”We talked this morning about how important this place was to me and the connections I had and how first-class this organization was in taking care of me and giving me a chance. But the two points are the most important.”
Luongo earned his first shutout of the season and first in 32 games against San Jose.
”That guy never ceases to amaze,” Boughner said. ”He kept his composure, especially in the scrambles. He wasn’t over-moving. He was real square every time.”
Martin Jones was nearly as good for the Sharks. He stopped 26 shots, but that wasn’t enough to keep the Panthers from winning for the seventh time in their last eight trips to San Jose.
Sharks defenseman Tim Heed had a goal disallowed on a coach’s challenge a little less than five minutes into the second period. Replays showed he came into contact with the puck just behind the blue line, making the play offside.
San Jose had another goal overturned after a replay review. Brent Burns took a hard shot that Luongo nearly caught but couldn’t handle and it bounced along his pads. Marc-Edouard Vlasic was one of three Sharks trying to poke at the puck and he used his stick to push both the puck and Luongo’s pad into the net.
”The ref was telling me the puck was loose,” Luongo said. ”Even if it was, the player pitchforked my leg into the net and there was no way I was going to make the save in that situation.”
Vlasic didn’t see it that way.
”The puck crossed the line,” he said. ”You’re jabbing at the puck and it hits his pad. It should have been an absolute goal. The one was offside, that’s all there is to it. The other one is a judgment call. I don’t know the rules anymore.”
Sceviour scored a minute into the second after digging out the puck along the boards behind the net. He skated around the cage and poked a shot that hit Jones’ pads. He took a second shot that got over the goalie’s pads and went in.
Sceviour has four points in six games since returning from injury. He had two points in his first six games this season.
The Panthers, who have won three of four, added an insurance goal with less than eight minutes remaining. Radim Vrbata intercepted a pass in the Sharks zone and played it to Jamie McGinn, who got Jones to commit before dishing to Bjugstad.
”We have to create more offense, make smarter decisions and get hungrier around the net,” San Jose’s Logan Couture said. ”We’re not going to win many games if we’re scoring two or less.”
NOTES: Panthers C Michael Haley received a warm ovation from Sharks fans. He played in San Jose the last couple of years. … Sharks D Paul Martin missed his 15th game with a lower-body injury, though he has been skating pain-free for the past two weeks. … Florida center Vincent Trocheck has 12 points in his last 10 games. … The Sharks have not scored on their past 15 power plays.
Panthers: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.
Sharks: Host the Boston Bruins on Saturday.
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