Nick Bjugstad scores early goal, Panthers top Hurricanes 1-0 despite injury to Luongo



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SUNRISE, Florida — Roberto Luongo started strong in net and Al Montoya finished the job.

Nick Bjugstad scored 21 seconds into the game and the Florida Panthers edged the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 on Wednesday night despite an injury to Luongo.

The veteran goalie made 11 saves before leaving with 9:38 left in the second period with an upper-body injury. Luongo was replaced by Montoya, who stopped 22 shots in his sixth appearance of the season.

"It's not going to be that serious; we'll know more tomorrow," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said of Luongo's injury.

Gallant said the injury appeared to occur sometime before Luongo exited the game, possibly on a poke check. Earlier in the period, Luongo made a terrific glove save on a shot by Victor Rask.

The Panthers won for the first time in three games and posted their first shutout since a 1-0 win at Buffalo on Oct. 17.

"Lou's been so good for us, it's hard to see him go down," Montoya said. "Luckily, I was able to answer the bell tonight."

The Hurricanes lost for the sixth time in seven games and have an NHL-worst 2-9-2 road record.

"It wasn't the start we wanted. To spot a team a goal on the road is tough," forward Jeff Skinner said.

Cam Ward, who allowed 11 goals in his previous three games, made 27 saves for Carolina and was stellar after giving up Bjugstad's goal on the second shot of the game.

"I think we were well aware we've been bad in the first (period)," Ward said. "Unfortunately, we've been on the bad break of the one-goal games. We can't afford to have a lackluster first period like that."

The Hurricanes fired 17 shots in the third period but couldn't get anything past Montoya.

"I think it's more of what we did or didn't do rather than the goaltender," Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. "There's some quantity in shots, but there needs to be more quality."

Bjugstad's goal was the quickest for the Panthers this season, and they made it stand up.

Jonathan Huberdeau passed the puck from behind the net out to Brandon Pirri in the right circle. Pirri then passed across to Bjugstad to the left of the crease, and he pushed the puck past Ward.

Bjugstad also had the previous fastest goal for Florida this season, when he scored 24 seconds into a game at San Jose on Nov. 20.

Bjugstad has points in five of his past six games, totaling six goals and three assists.

"The puck's just going in for me," he said.

The Panthers had lost three of their past four home games.

"You take them any way you can get them," captain Willie Mitchell said. "That's a team that we have to beat if we want to get to where we want to be."

NOTES: Panthers wing Scottie Upshall missed the game with a lower-body injury sustained against Minnesota on Monday. ... Hurricanes D Michal Jordan, recalled from Charlotte of the AHL on Tuesday, played his first game of the season. ... The Hurricanes, in the midst of a five-game road trip, will celebrate Thanksgiving in Pittsburgh, where they play the Penguins on Friday.

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