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Luongo makes 30 stops in 12th career shutout

12/20/2002

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- If the Florida Panthers get a lead going
into an intermission, the rest of the NHL is in trouble.

Goaltender Roberto Luongo made 30 saves in his 12th career
shutout, and the Panthers defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 Friday
night. The Panthers have not lost in regulation this season when
leading at an intermission, going 4-0-4-1 when leading after the
first and 8-0-2-2 after the second.

"We just keep it simple,'' said Panthers center Ryan Johnson,
who scored his second goal of the year in the first period. "We
try not to change things. For us to be successful, we kind of got
to play and ugly game. So when we get a lead, we got to stay
aggressive and not sit back and let teams come to us.''

"It all comes from experience,'' Luongo said. "Lots of times
we had the lead and we gave it up, and lately we've had the
confidence to preserve that lead and we've closed them off.''

Jaroslav Bednar and Viktor Kozlov also scored for the Panthers.
Luongo made 40 saves Dec. 6 in a 2-0 win over Carolina in his only
other shutout this season, and has made at least 30 saves in a game
12 times.

"I enjoy a game that I get 30-35 shots more than a game where I
get 20,'' Luongo said. "For me, it keeps me in the game and it
keeps me focused.''

The Panthers have thrived on the road most of the season,
earning at least one point in each road contest dating back to Oct.
30, a 4-0-3-3 stretch.

"If I could figure it out I'd tell you,'' Johnson said of the
team's road exploits. "We seem to relax and little and keep our
game simple, whereas at home I think we try to out on a little bit
of a performance and it bites us in the butt.''

Martin Biron stopped 28 shots for Buffalo, 1-3-1 in its last
five games. The Sabres have been blanked four times this season.

Florida's beleaguered power play -- 0-for-10 in its last two
games and with just two goals in its last 30 opportunities -- went
1-for-5 in the game.

The Sabres, who learned earlier in the day the team is running
out of cash and is in jeopardy of moving, refused to use the
distraction as an excuse.

"That's an easy out,'' Sabres captain Stu Barnes said. "We
can't say anything that happened this morning is an excuse for how
we played tonight. We won't do that.''

He wasn't alone.

"You try to block that out,'' Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I
don't think it had an effect.''

Game notes
Panthers forward
Olli Jokinen, tied for third in the NHL
with 17 goals and the team's leading scorer with 32 points, left
the game with a hip pointer and did not return. He is questionable
for Saturday's game at Boston. ... Sabres defenseman Rhett Warrener
hurt his groin and will miss two weeks. ... Florida is now 14-21-2
all-time against Buffalo. ... The Sabres scratched defenseman James
Patrick (concussion) and forwards Jochen Hecht (concussion) and
Norm Milley (healthy). ... Florida scratched forwards Valeri Bure
(hairline fracture of right wrist) and Stephane Matteau (hip
flexor).