SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) – The Florida Panthers are in unfamiliar territory after dropping their third straight game on Saturday.
While Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo was terrific against his former team earlier this month, he hasn’t been very sharp since.
Nothing has gotten past Ryan Miller in the Vancouver Canucks’ last two games.
Luongo and the Panthers try to avoid a season-worst fourth consecutive loss when they host the Canucks on Monday night.
If in goal, this will mark Luongo’s third matchup against Vancouver since he was sent to Florida in a four-player last March. The four-time All-Star made 32 saves against the Canucks in a 3-1 victory Jan. 8 in his much-anticipated return to Rogers Arena.
“I haven’t been back here since the trade so not only for myself, but I think for the fans as well it just closes the chapter and we get to move on now,” he said.
Luongo went on to stop 31 shots in a 4-2 win at Edmonton three nights later, but he’s since posted a 3.59 goals-against average in dropping three consecutive starts for the first time since opening 0-2-1. Luongo had 32 saves in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Edmonton as the Oilers snapped a franchise-worst 14-game road losing streak.
“It’s not a matter of taking the point and moving on,” Luongo said. “We needed to bounce back and we didn’t come up with the win.”
The Panthers (20-13-10) have been limited to seven goals during an 0-2-2 slide at home, and they could be in for another long night with Miller between the pipes. Miller made a combined 58 saves in blanking Philadelphia 4-0 on Thursday and Carolina 3-0 on Friday, giving Vancouver (25-15-3) back-to-back road wins after dropping five of six away from home.
Luongo was the last Canucks goalie to put together three consecutive shutouts from Nov. 4-8, 2008. Miller, who recently missed time with an illness, has won three consecutive road starts behind a 0.33 GAA.
“I think it’s important to get these points and important for me to get back after taking a few days,” he told the team’s official website. “Just because you do something one (game) doesn’t mean you’re going to do it again. You just get to the right mental place and then trust that everything works out.”
Alexandre Burrows, Derek Dorsett and Shawn Matthias all scored in the second period Friday. Vancouver had managed two goals during a three-game skid before winning its last two.
“Not too long ago, we couldn’t score goals, it seems like,” Burrows said. “Now everybody’s got some bounces going their way. … We weren’t really getting any puck luck around the net, but now we’re scoring some timely goals.”
The Canucks have lost three of four in the series, but they’re 6-2-1 over their last nine road meetings. Henrik Sedin has 14 points in as many games against the Panthers.
Sedin ranks second on the team with 37 points, one behind Daniel Sedin.
Miller is 1-3-2 with a 3.24 GAA in his last six starts against the Panthers, yielding three or four goals in each of the last five matchups.
Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice in the Jan. 8 victory over Vancouver and once on Saturday, giving him four goals and four assists over the last six games. He’s tallied two and four during a five-game point streak at home after notching three points in his first 13 games there.
The Panthers are 1 for their last 19 on the power play.
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