Sabres Notebook: Luongo secures milestone win - The Buffalo News

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Sabres Notebook: Luongo secures milestone win

Roberto Luongo knew he was one win away from passing Curtis Joseph for fourth place on the list of most career wins by a goalie in the National Hockey League.

"The media reminds me every day," the goaltender said with a smile.

The personal accomplishment Friday night was, truth be told, not all that important to the 38-year-old. What was important was getting the win for his team to help drag the Florida Panthers out of a five-game winless streak.

Luongo met both marks, making 24 saves in the Panthers 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres in KeyBank Center.

The team win was important. Career win No. 455? Well that means "not much right now," Luongo said.

"I think it's nice but for me it's about getting wins and getting into the playoffs. These accomplishments are for a rainy day when you're sitting at home and not doing much. For right now, I think the focus is on getting some points in the standings and winning some games and getting into the playoffs."

There's a long way to go for the Panthers to get into playoff contention. Friday's win brings them into a tie with the Sabres in the Atlantic Division, though both teams are still at the cellar of the Eastern Conference.

But the Panthers were able to exhale slightly Friday.

"The first win is always the toughest one to get coming out of a slump," Luongo said. "We've just got to try and build on it."

Wins have been plentiful for Luongo against the Sabres.  In his 30 career games against Buffalo he is 19-8-0. He entered Friday's matchup with a 1.99 career goals against and a .933 save percentage against the Sabres.

"I think sometimes you feel more comfortable against certain teams than others," Luongo said. "With that being said, I couldn't tell you the reason why. Just something that happens, so I'll take it."

In this win, he was called on to make a few key saves in the final seven minutes with the Panthers clinging to a 2-1 lead. The first big save was a rebound that came to Sam Reinhart with 6:32 left in the game. Then with 1:57 left, Evander Kane was on the doorstep, but Luongo held his ground.

After that, the Panthers got a pair of empty net goals for some breathing room.

"They only had one or two (Grade A chances) I can think of," Luongo said of the late push by the Sabres. "The guys did a great job in front of me. They were picking up sticks so I could only remember one situation where there was a rebound. The guys did a good job letting me have the first shot. Other than that it was out of the zone. That's the type of defense we want to be playing."

It was just the second win of the year for Luongo, who missed six games with a lower body injury.

He leads all active goaltenders in games played (972), wins (455) and shutouts (73).

***

On the other end of the ice, Robin Lehner made some spectacular saves, particularly in the second period. He gave up the game-winner in the third when Ian McCoshen used a screen perfectly to beat him from the blue line. It was a bit of bad luck. But for Lehner, bad luck comes to teams for a reason.

"We didn't deserve to win this game," Lehner said. "Something was going to go in and it usually bounces in the right team's favor."

Lehner noted that the Sabres were turning the puck over too much in this game and that the team clearly failed to apply the principles from their recent win over the Washington Capitals.

"We didn't keep doing what was successful against Washington. That’s why we get these results," Lehner said. "I think we got lucky a couple of times in the first where they didn't capitalize on some of our turnovers, but we had turnovers in the first. We tried to address it in the locker room here but it didn't get addressed. It's a high-scoring team over there. We've got to keep playing a team game and everyone's got to do better. Every one. Every single person on this team. Me included."

***

When Bob Boughner comes to Buffalo, he usually takes a minute to go past the spot where Memorial Auditorium stood.

He remembers playing the last year in the old Aud and moving a few blocks to the new arena. And one of the things he remembers are the banners.

"I've always loved coming back here. It's sort of where it all started," Boughner said. "Every time I go by the open area where the Aud used to be, I remember taking the banners down the last game and putting them back up here.  There are a lot of good memories about being a Buffalo Sabre."

Boughner, now the head coach of the Florida Panthers, was part of one of those banners, playing for the Sabres in the 1996-97 season when they won the Northeast Division.

The defenseman played in parts of three seasons with the Sabres, who acquired him on Feb. 1, 1996 in exchange for a draft pick from the Florida Panthers. Two days later, he made his NHL debut with Buffalo. He recorded no points but picked up 12 penalty minutes.

That was par for the course with Boughner, who played in 177 games with the Sabres recording 13 points with 484 penalty minutes.

 

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