Panthers once again lose Luongo to injury

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The Florida Panthers breathed a sigh of relief when Roberto Luongo eventually shook off a Steven Stamkos shot that caught him up high. The team and goalie dodged an injury bullet there, but Luongo’s night ended early thanks to a different issue.

In an unlucky event, Panthers teammate Frank Vatrano fell on Luongo in an awkward, painful-looking moment.

It’s too early to tell how serious Luongo’s injury might be; the Panthers only announced that the veteran goalie won’t return to the Panthers’ season-opening game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay.

Injuries were a recurring issue for Luongo last season, and in recent years, as the Elite Tweeter has really racked up mileage (tonight represented the 1,002th regular-season appearance of what could be a Hall of Fame career).

James Reimer stepped in for Luongo, as he has many times before … at least when Reimer has been healthy. If nothing else, the Panthers have made significant investments in providing support alongside Luongo, considering that Reimer carries a $3.4 million cap hit for multiple years. The Panthers also have experience waiting in the wings behind Reimer, as Michael Hutchinson was added to the mix as insurance.

While the Panthers have options behind Luongo, a team garnering quite a bit of dark horse hype would surely prefer to have “Bobby Lou” in net more often than not. Such hopes aren’t off to the greatest start, but perhaps that injury won’t be as bad as it looked.

Update: Mostly good news for the Panthers after the 2-1 shootout loss to the Lightning:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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