Huberdeau brace powers Panthers past Canucks 3-1

Luongo (32 saves) shines in return to Vancouver.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Florida Panthers to a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The big road win kept the Cats three points behind the Bruins for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida still has four games in hand on Boston.

Roberto Luongo turned aside 32 of 33 Vancouver shots in making a triumphant return to Rogers Arena. Luongo showed no ill-effects from the hit he took from Alex Ovechkin during his last outing.

The Canucks opened the scoring at 3:39 of the first when captain Willie Mitchell failed to clear the zone. Daniel Sedin got the goal with the assists going to brother Henrik and Yannick Weber.

Huberdeau evened the affair midway through the frame with his fifth of the season. The puck came out in front to the third-year forward and his shot from the slot was was stopped by Ryan Miller, but unlucky defenseman Alexander Edler ended up putting the rebound into his own net.

Aleksander Barkov put the Cats in front at the 7:10 mark of the second period with a nifty deflection goal. Barkov won an offensive zone draw to Huberdeau who fed Aaron Ekblad for a blast from the point that sophomore center tipped by Miller.

Dmitry Kulikov sent Huberdeau in alone on Miller at 16:43 and he bagged his second of the night to complete the scoring. Mitchell picked up the secondary assist for his fifth point of the campaign.

Luongo stopped all nine Vancouver shots in the third period to get the Panthers another tow points in the standings. The Cat keeper was named First Star for his fine effort.

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Bits & Bobs

  • The win was the 389th of Roberto's Loungo NHL career, tying him with Dominik Hasek for 11th all-time.
  • Ryan Miller finished the game with 27 saves and saw his record fall to 20-9-1 on the season.
  • Florida penalty kill played a big part in the victory, going a perfect six-for-six on the night. The Cats killed off a brief 5-on-3 opportunity in the third period,
  • Aaron Ekblad is now just three points away from passing Rick Hampton and Scott Stevens for the sixth-best offensive season by an 18-year-old defenseman,
  • The new line of Aleksander Barkov, Brad Boyes and Jonathan Huberdeau finished the game a combined plus-nine. Impressive, most impressive.
  • Forwards Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann returned to the Panthers lineup. Kopecky finished with four shots on goal while Flash had two and finished with a -1 rating.
  • In addition to his assist on the Canucks only goal, Yannick Weber led his team with four shots on Luongo.
  • For more on the Cats big win and Lu's emotional return to Vancouver, check out Nucks Misconduct.