Panthers-Canucks Preview

BY foxsports • January 11, 2016

Roberto Luongo represents the Vancouver Canucks' past and Chris Higgins may soon as well.

Luongo will try to help the visiting Florida Panthers extend their club-record win streak to 13 games Monday night against a Canucks team that has announced that they are trying to trade the underachieving Higgins.

Florida (26-12-4) opted to rest Luongo for the opener of this back-to-back set, with Al Montoya making 24 saves in Sunday's 2-1 win at Edmonton. Now the Panthers can become the first team to win 13 in a row since a 15-game run by Pittsburgh in 2012-13.

Luongo has started nine times in this run, posting a 1.31 goals-against average with two shutouts for the longest win streak of his career.

That career is known best for when he played for Vancouver (16-16-10) between 2006-14. This is his second game back at Rogers Arena since leaving, as he made 32 saves in a 3-1 victory Jan. 8, 2015.

He said a warm ovation from the fans that night brought closure to him for his time in Vancouver, where he also won gold for Canada at the 2010 Olympics.

Luongo was a teammate for three-plus seasons with Higgins, who has endured an injury-plagued season and has gone 22 games without a goal. The winger is not expected to dress after the Canucks said Sunday that they are exploring a trade.

"That's a tough day for everybody in our organization," second-year coach Willie Desjardins said. "He's brought a lot to our team through the years before I was here."

The Canucks fell to 3-2-1 on this seven-game homestand with Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Tampa Bay. They have scored three goals or fewer in seven straight games since a 5-4 shootout loss at Florida on Dec. 20.

"When you start losing, then I think you have to look at trying different options and trying different things," Desjardins said.

Vancouver will start giving more ice time to younger players with 23-year-old Emerson Etem ready for his club debut. Etem was acquired Friday from the New York Rangers after he had three assists in 19 games with them after spending his first three seasons with Anaheim.

Etem will be on a line with Linden Vey, a former junior hockey teammate.

"It makes that on-ice transition that much more easy," Etem said. "Definitely lucky to have that and like I said, I just can't wait to get going here."

Desjardins will start Jacob Markstrom in goal while Jannik Hansen, third on the team with 22 points, is out with an upper-body injury.

Aleksander Barkov has 14 points during Florida's winning streak, Jonathan Huberdeau has 13 and Jaromir Jagr 10. Huberdeau has five points in a three-game run and Jagr has five in a four-game streak.

Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr had Sunday's goals as the Panthers won despite finishing with 14 shots for their lowest total in three seasons.

"It was a grinder-type game and we did what we had to do to win," center Nick Bjugstad said. "We didn't necessarily play well, but you're going to have those games where you don't feel the greatest but you have to sneak them out."

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