Florida Panthers

After injury-filled night, Panthers recall goalie Ellis (Updated)

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The Florida Panthers brought up some much-needed netminding enforcement on Wednesday, recalling veteran Dan Ellis from AHL San Antonio.

Ellis, 34, is headed to Florida one day after a wild loss to Toronto, during which both Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya exited due to injury, forcing 41-year-old goalie coach Rob Tallas to suit up in an emergency role and forcing Luongo to return to the game after he’d already changed into his street clothes.

There’s still no word on exactly how badly either of the Panthers’ two netminders are hurt. Luongo suffered an apparent shoulder injury and was set to undergo further evaluation; Montoya hurt his groin “pretty bad,” per head coach Gerard Gallant.

If both are sidelined for any length of time, it’ll be a huge blow for Florida’s playoff chances. The team missed a golden opportunity to draw even with Boston on 71 points last night — the Bruins currently hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference — and Florida has two more games coming up in quick succession: Thursday against the Stars, Saturday against the Islanders.

Update: The Panthers also recalled goalie Sam Brittain from the ECHL, which is an indication neither Luongo nor Montoya will be ready for Thursday’s game against Dallas.

Bernier bests Panthers as Luongo goes from injured (and in street clothes) to back in net

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It’s oddly fitting that a goalie shined the brightest in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, as netminders provided tons of drama.

Jonathan Bernier was absolutely brilliant in making 40 saves and ended Toronto’s 16-game road winless streak, but most eyes were on Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya and … Robb Tallas.

It started out with Luongo, who was hurt by a first period shot. Montoya then got hurt himself during the third period, yet with Florida in a huge bind, the backup goalie did his best to tough things out (eventually giving up the game-deciding goal as he could barely move properly).

All eyes were on the Panthers bench and walkway, as goalie coach Tallas warmed up in an emergency capacity. It only got weirder when Luongo was seen discussing the situation with Panthers GM Dale Tallon and other staffers in street clothes before coming back out in his gear to finish the game.

Luongo stopped all 19 of the shots he faced, suffer what seemed like a shoulder injury, and ended the night with a non-decision.

It was an absolutely surreal situation, yet it could have serious playoff implications if Luongo and/or Montoya are significantly hurt.

On the bright side for Florida, they do have an experienced goalie waiting in the wings in Dan Ellis. In less savory news, their goalies weren’t the only players to get banged up, as Nick Bjugstad was shaken up when he took a puck up high.

Yeah, not a great night for the Panthers, so they probably won’t get much of a kick out of these bits of information about Tallas:

Greedy folks wanted to see Jaromir Jagr in net, yet it felt like slack-jawed observers witnessed everything else in this one.

Luongo leaves game, Panthers in bind with Montoya also hurt

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The Florida Panthers are still keyed into a hopeful playoff run – their moves mainly cleared out guys with no future in Sunrise – so seeing Roberto Luongo take a puck to the head/neck one night after the trade deadline is especially distressing.

While he finished up the first period, Luongo’s night eventually ended earlier thanks to this moment against the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Yeah, not ideal.

Update: On the bright side, the Miami Herald’s George Richards provides an optimistic early outlook –

More interesting update: Al Montoya was banged up during the game, and for some time, it seemed like Florida would have to scramble to either dress a skater or improvise in some other way to get a third goalie in there. Montoya returned, however, but not before onlookers were entertained.

Goalie nods: Markstrom makes season debut for Canucks

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Vancouver goes with Markstrom

There’ll be plenty of eyes on the crease in Vancouver tonight as Jacob Markstrom makes his season debut against the Sharks.

Markstrom, a former touted prospect with Florida that came to the Canucks as part of the Roberto Luongo trade, has spent all of this season in AHL Utica and revived his career, going 17-7-2 with a 1.95 GAA and .932 save percentage, earning a spot in the All-Star Game.

Markstrom was recalled last week after Ryan Miller went down to injury, and served as Eddie Lack’s backup. Tonight, he’ll play in his first NHL game since April of 2014.

No word yet on who’ll start for San Jose. Alex Stalock played last night and shut out the Habs, so the Sharks could turn to Antti Niemi.

Elsewhere…

Preds at Devils: Carter Hutton (probable) vs. Cory Schneider

Flames at Flyers: Karri Ramo vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Jackets: Braden Holtby vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Sabres at Bolts: Anders Lindback vs. Ben Bishop

Leafs at Panthers: Jonathan Bernier vs. Roberto Luongo

Sens at Wild: Andrew Hammond vs. Devan Dubnyk (probable)

Isles at Stars: Jaroslav Halak vs. Kari Lehtonen (probable)

Ducks at Coyotes: Frederik Andersen (probable) vs. Mike Smith

Kings at Oilers: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Ben Scrivens (probable)

Stewart to open with Vanek, Koivu in Minnesota

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Upon acquiring Chris Stewart from Buffalo yesterday, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said the 27-year-old power forward would be able to play up and down the Minnesota lineup.

To start, though, he’ll be near the top.

Stewart will open on a line with Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu, head coach Mike Yeo told KFAN radio on Tuesday. The Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line will remain intact, meaning the club’s other new forward — Sean Bergenheim — will play with Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle (Bergenheim had debuted on the Koivu-Vanek line.)

It’ll be interesting to see how Stewart fits with his new running mates. It’s clear by both his and Fletcher’s comments that the goal is to provide a physical element and more size; it’s also likely Stewart will be a net-front presence and feed off the offense generated by Vanek (who has nine points in his last 11 games) and Koivu (12 in his last 14.)

“Adding my size and my physicality to that lineup, I think that’s something they’re looking for,” Stewart said, per the Star-Tribune. “I’m a big guy, a power forward, I have some pretty good speed and I like to play a hard-nosed game and get in the corners there and on the forecheck and create turnovers.

“It’s going to be a great challenge. I look forward to it.”