Goalie nods: Vancouver welcomes back red-hot Luongo, who ‘didn’t go to Florida to retire’

It’s always a story whenever Roberto Luongo faces his old team, the Vancouver Canucks.

And today was no different.

Ahead of Monday night’s tilt between the Panthers and Canucks at Rogers Arena, Luongo held scourt with the Vancouver media to talk about a number of things — specifically, thoughts on his red-hot team, which heads into tonight looking for a 13th consecutive victory.

“I didn’t go to Florida to retire,” Luongo explained, per Sportsnet. “I went to try and turn the corner of the franchise and have at least one more kick at it.”

Luongo, who turns 37 in April, is enjoying one of the best seasons of his lengthy career. He’s headed back to the All-Star game — his second in as many seasons — on the strength of an 19-11-3 record, 2.06 GAA, .931 save percentage and three shutouts.

Despite being one of the older starting netminders in the league, Luongo has also emerged as a real workhorse for the Panthers. He sits eighth in games played and fifth in saves, with 980. It’s all part of the reason he’s in serious discussion for this year’s Vezina trophy, something he’s never won (closest he came was runner-up to Martin Brodeur in ’07).

Yet every time he plays the Canucks, the conversations eventually turn to his tumultuous time with the organization.

And once again, this time was no different.

“I did a lot of growing up in Van. Unfortunately, when I figured it out it was a little too late for me there,” Luongo told Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. “I just look at things differently now. I keep it in mind that I’m playing the game that I love, and I’m going to enjoy these moments.

“I don’t think about the stuff surrounding me that sometimes can become distractions.”

For the Canucks, Jacob Markstrom — part of the trade that sent Luongo to Florida — will start in goal.

Elsewhere…

— Potential marquee matchup brewing in New York, as the Bruins look likely to put Tuukka Rask up against Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers.

Martin Jones, coming off a 7-0 shutout of Toronto over the weekend, starts for the Sharks in Calgary. The Flames will go with Karri Ramo.

— The Wings will give Jimmy Howard a shot (or Petr Mrazek a night off, depending on how you look at it) in Los Angeles. The Kings, as per usual, are going with Jonathan Quick.

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