Thanks in large part to a three-point game from forward Jonathan Marchessault, the Florida Panthers were able to win their second consecutive game to open the 2016-17 season by beating the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Saturday night.
It was also a big night for veteran goalie Roberto Luongo who stopped 21 shots to pick up his 438th win in the NHL.
That win moves him to sole possession of sixth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list, moving him ahead of Hall of Famer Jacques Plante. Assuming he stays healthy, he should be able to move into the top-four by the end of this season.
He trails Terry Sawchuk (447) by only nine wins for fifth place, and is only 16 behind Curtis Joseph (454) for fourth.
The obvious asterisk that will get pointed out here is that Luongo has played the bulk of his career in the shootout era where he’s had an opportunity to pile up a bunch of wins that the likes of Sawchuk, Plante and Joseph never had. That is certainly true.
Since the start of the 2005-06 season Luongo has been able to add 46 wins to his career total thanks to the shootout. Before then those games would have simply ended in ties. But even if you knock 46 wins off of his career total, he would still be in the top-12 on the NHL’s all-times win list and end up in the top-10 by the end of this season anyway.
The bottom line with Luongo is that he has had a pretty spectacular career that has featured both tremendous longevity and durability at a physically demanding position (he is still playing at an elite level at an age where most goalies have badly declined), as well as periods of dominance.
It has not yet resulted in a Stanley Cup, but he did take the Vancouver Canucks to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011 (a series where he recorded two shutouts, a fact that gets forgotten because of the way the series ended) and he has won an Olympic Gold Medal.
At 37 and coming off of hip surgery over the summer the Panthers would probably be wise to give him some rest throughout the season to make sure he remains rested and refreshed for a potential playoff run. They signed James Reimer to a five-year, $17 million contract this summer to help do just that.