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Luongo stops 34 shots for shutout

2/21/2004

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are threatening to
take losing to a new level in the NHL, even if they don't wind up
with multiple entries in the record book.

Roberto Luongo stopped 34 shots for his 20th career shutout and
the Florida Panthers ran Pittsburgh's league-record home losing
streak to 13 games, winning 2-0 Friday night.

The Penguins lost their 17th straight game, which would have
equaled the league record if they hadn't gained a point in
Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss at St. Louis. Regardless, they could
become the first NHL team to lose 18 consecutive games in a season
if they lose Sunday at home to Ottawa.

"It's frustrating to be on a skid like this," rookie
defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "We're just not getting the results
we need right now. It's disheartening."

A loss or tie Sunday would equal the club record for longest
winless streak, set when the Penguins went 0-17-1 from Jan. 2, 1983
through Feb. 10, 1983.

"We are in a team in an unbelievably tough stretch, and it
certainly makes it more difficult," coach Eddie Olczyk said. "But
not at any time did we feel like we were out of the game, and I
think you could tell by the players' effort."

Kristian Huselius and Juraj Kolnik scored second-period goals
against rookie goalie Andy Chiodo to help Florida win for the first
time in four games (1-2-1) on its six-game road trip. The Panthers
went 4-0 against the Penguins this season and have won nine
straight against them, outscoring them 36-13.

Luongo, who might be an MVP candidate if he played for a team
higher in the standings, won his eighth straight against the
Penguins after starting his career 1-6-1 against them.

"It's not the same team anymore. Lately things have been going
well against them and you want that streak to continue every
time," Luongo said. "A few years ago, they had five or six
superstars and every time on the ice you had to beware of them."

Luongo, who faces a league-high average of 34.5 shots per game,
made key saves during important stretches, such as when Florida
killed off two power plays resulting from Mathieu Biron penalties
2{ minutes apart midway through the third period. Luongo has
stopped 75 of 76 shots in his last two games, including Wednesday's
1-1 tie with Buffalo.

Pittsburgh was 0-for-5 on the power play.

"I got lucky a couple of times, they hit a couple of posts and
one time they tipped it and it went off my pads," Luongo said.
"Some nights go well for you, you know?"

After allowing 13 power-play goals in their previous five games,
the Penguins were beaten on two even-strength goals about 10
minutes apart in the second period.

Huselius made it 1-0 less than two minutes into the period with
his eighth goal, a backhander from the edge of the left circle with
defenseman Marc Bergevin positioned between him and Chiodo.

Kolnik scored his 10th goal unassisted midway through the
period, stealing the puck from defenseman Dan Focht in the neutral
zone and beating Chiodo with a wrist shot as Focht tried
frantically to catch up.

"I was looking to pass, but the D-man slid down and I didn't
even look at the net, I just put it on net," Kolnik said. "I
didn't even see where the goalie was."

Chiodo, 20 and the Penguins' third rookie goalie this season,
played well in only his second NHL game, making 30 saves. He has
stopped 60 of 66 shots since being recalled from the AHL earlier
this week.

"We could have had that game," Chiodo said. "If I could have
gotten a couple (of shots) back, it would have been a different
game."
^Notes:@ The Penguins have been outscored 57-17 during their home
losing streak. Until this season, no NHL team had lost more than 11
in a row at home in a season. ... Florida went 4-0 against
Pittsburgh with three coaches: Mike Keenan (1-0), Rick Dudley (1-0)
and John Torchetti (2-0). ... Despite winning, Florida is nine
points out of the Eastern Conference's last playoff spot. ...
Florida has scored only six goals in four games. ... Florida was
0-for-4 on the power play and is 3-for-42 in its last 11 games. ...
Luongo's shutout was his fourth this season and first since Jan. 3
against Columbus.