SUNRISE, Fla. — Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo is expected to miss at least the club’s next two games — on Thursday against the Dallas Stars and Saturday against the New York Islanders — the team announced Thursday.
Luongo sustained a shoulder injury in the first period of a 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. He left the game — and the building — but returned in the third period after backup Al Montoya suffered a groin injury.
Luongo, 35, has posted a 23-16-11 record with a 2.37 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage with Florida this season.
"It’s tough when you lose a guy like that," said Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant. "Hopefully it’s just a short-term injury here and he’ll be back on the ice as soon as possible. It’s not a long-term thing."
The Panthers are hopeful that Luongo will be in net when the team hosts the Winnipeg Jets on March 12.
Montoya, meanwhile, is expected to miss the next 2-4 weeks.
"He pulled his groin pretty good," said Gallant. "He won’t be available for a couple weeks."
In the wake of these injuries, the Panthers recalled former NHL goaltender Dan Ellis from San Antonio (AHL) and rookie Sam Brittain from Cincinnati (ECHL) on Wednesday.
Ellis will start for the Panthers against Dallas on Thursday night with Brittain serving as his backup.
Ellis, 34, has posted a 22-11-3 record with a 2.70 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage with San Antonio this season.
THE CAPTAIN RETURNS
Hoping to make life easier on the Luongo-less Panthers will be defenseman and captain Willie Mitchell.
Mitchell, who suffered an upper-body injury against the Islanders on Feb. 2, has been cleared to play and could return to Florida’s lineup as early as Thursday.
"It’s good to have our captain and our leader back," said defenseman Dmitry Kulikov. "We’ve missed him in the lineup the past few games we’ve played and his presence is definitely going to make a difference."
In 15 games without Mitchell, Florida has killed off just 74 percent of opponent’s power plays.
"We need to have a strong penalty kill for the rest of the season," said Kulikov. "It can win you games and it can lose you games. The penalty kill is a big thing and he’s a big part of our penalty kill."
Mitchell, 37, has recorded two goals and five points in 49 games with the Panthers this season.