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SUNRISE (CBSMiami/AP) — It’s becoming pretty clear that this Florida Panthers team is not a fluke.
The Panthers just keep setting franchise records.
Roberto Luongo stopped 40 shots for his third shutout of the season as the Panthers beat the New York Rangers 3-0 Saturday night for their franchise-best eighth straight win.
Brandon Pirri, Vincent Trocheck and Logan Shaw each scored to help Florida regain first place in the Atlantic Division.
The Panthers also set a franchise mark with their sixth consecutive home win and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Rangers, beating them for the first time since April 23, 2013.
Luongo got his seventh straight win, breaking his own Panthers franchise consecutive wins record, and tying Lorne Chabot and Harry Lumley for 11th place in NHL history with 71 career shutouts.
“I’m more worried about the standings list than career accomplishments. Our goal is to be in the playoffs,” Luongo said.
The Panthers have won 14 of their past 17.
“It’s awesome. It couldn’t go any better for us right now, but we’ve got to keep playing,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’ve got more than half the season left to go. They’re great wins, but we’ve got to do it every night.”
The announced crowd of 20,289 at the BB&T Center was the largest this season.
Henrik Lundqvist made 15 saves for the Rangers, who have lost eight of their past nine on the road and 10 of their past 14 overall (4-8-2).
“This team today, they had some really good skills,” Lundqvist said. “If we get (a goal) there in the second, it’s a different game.”
The Panthers led 3-0 after two periods despite being outshot 24-12.
“There’s no doubt that Luongo had a good night tonight, but you’ve got to find a way to make it harder on him,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Better screens, more people at the net. Yes, he did have a good night, but at the end of the day we had some looks and we didn’t capitalize.”
Ahead 1-0, the Panthers doubled their lead early in the second. Alex Petrovic shot from the point and Lundqvist stopped the shot with his blocker but the puck bounced off Trocheck’s leg and into the net at 4:41.
Pirri’s power-play goal gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead little past the midpoint of the period. Pirri’s shot from the right circle got past Lundqvist with 8:42 remaining in the second, giving the Panther three goals on 10 shots.
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on the goal by Shaw with 25 seconds left in the first. Corban Knight passed from the left circle to Shaw in the slot, who redirected the puck past Lundqvist on the short side.
NOTES: Rangers forward Kevin Hayes was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. … D Dan Girardi played his third straight game after missing the previous five with a cracked kneecap. … The Panthers end a season-high six-game homestand on Sunday against Minnesota. … Panthers coach Gerard Gallant received a contract extension announced on Saturday. Gallant will remain under contract through the 2018-19 season.
The Panthers face the Minnesota Wild on Sunday, January 3rd at 6:00 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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