Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo will miss "an extended period of time" with a lower-body injury, coach Bob Boughner said after practice on Wednesday morning.
"Whether that's three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, we're going to see how his rehab goes, that kind of thing," Boughner said. "Definitely out for a while."
Luongo got hurt during the second period of Monday's shootout loss to the New York Islanders, making a right pad save on a Ryan Pulock's slap shot. Luongo was on the ice for a few minutes before being helped off the ice, unable to put weight on his right leg.
Boughner said the injury was not to Luongo's hip, which he had surgery on two summers ago. Multiple reports have said the injury is to Luongo's groin.
"When he went down, I was obviously scared about the hip," Boughner said. "It's not the hip, I can tell you that. That's a good thing. Obviously, when he went down, everybody was a little worried about that. He's here and he's working out here today. It's a rehab thing."
Luongo's absence will be the second extended one of the season for the 38-year-old netminder. In October, he missed two weeks and six games with a right hand injury suffered against the Penguins on Oct. 20.
Without Luongo, James Reimer will step into the starter's role again. When Luongo was out earlier this season, Reimer started hot but then went cold in replacement duty. He made at least 30 saves in the first four games after Luongo's injury, but allowed nine goals in less than 60 minutes against Tampa Bay and Columbus. He was pulled for Antti Niemi for both games.
"The last time he had to be in this position, there were some ups and some downs," Boughner said. "But for the most part, he's a good goalie. We have to support him. We weren't as good back then as we are now, I think, defensively."
This year, Reimer has posted a .892 save percentage and 3.67 goals against average in 14 games (12 starts).
"Hopefully, he comes back quick and he can keep going on with his legendary career so far," Reimer said. "In his absence, yeah, probably playing a few more games and looking forward to it and looking forward to putting a couple wins here back-to-back."
The Panthers recalled Harri Sateri on Wednesday morning to serve as Reimer's backup. Sateri was called up to Florida in October, but was only on the roster for two games. He has never played in a NHL game, as the franchise opted to have Antti Niemi back up Reimer.
With AHL affiliate Springfield this season, Sateri has a .906 save percentage and 2.76 goals against average in 12 games.
Boughner said the Panthers would have internal talks about looking at outside goaltending options.
"There'll be talks," Boughner said. "We've talked as a staff and as a management group, definitely have to look at other options out there to give Reims some help. We have Sateri that can play some games as well. We're trying to find a fit."
Luongo was having one of the best seasons of his career before he got hurt. He rebounded from a slow start to post a .928 save percentage and 2.61 goals against average in 15 games. The save percentage would be the best across an entire season for him since 2010-11, when he finished third in the Vezina Trophy voting with Vancouver.
After he returned from his hand injury, Luongo was nearly unbeatable. He made 45 saves in a loss to Carolina. He shut out San Jose for the first time in his career. In 11 games post-injury, he had a .936 save percentage.
"When a guy like Louie goes down," Boughner said, "your No. 1 goaltender, I think everybody, sort of the flags and the bells go off that 'Hey, we got to be good defensively to win games.' It's not because Reims isn't going to do his job. It's the nature of the beast.
"Your No. 1 guy is out and we want to make sure we provide Reims not only good defense in front of him so he can feel comfortable and start tomorrow night and have a good start and feel good about himself."
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