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Panthers hand Blues first loss, 5-2

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Roberto Luongo finally tied Curtis Joseph for fourth place on the NHL career victory list.

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Luongo reached 454 victories, making 37 saves to help the Florida Panthers beat the St. Louis Blues 5-2 on Thursday night.

The 38-year-old Luongo was playing his first home game since a Feb. 28 victory over Carolina. He didn't play after March 2 last season because of recurring hip issues.

''It took a long time. I was sitting on it for a while,'' Luongo said. ''Obviously, I wanted to get back in there and get that one behind me. I was happy that I was able to string a good game together and get the win and the two points.''

Vincent Trocheck scored the go-ahead goal, Ian McCoshen had his first NHL goal, and Jared McCann, Aaron Ekblad and Nick Bjugstad also connected for Florida.

The 13 goals scored by the Panthers are the most in the first three games to open the season in franchise history. The Panthers scored 11 goals to open the 2015-16 season.

''I think we have a little bit of swagger right now, a little bit of confidence that even when we go down a goal or two, we know that we have the firepower to answer right back,'' Trocheck said. ''That's going to be huge for us going forward.''

Paul Stastny and Vince Dunn - also with his first career goal - countered for St. Louis. Jake Allen stopped 33 shots in the Blues' first loss in five games this season.

Trocheck put the Panthers ahead 2-1 with a short-handed goal at 2:45 of the second period. Trocheck skated in on a breakaway and shot over Allen's glove. It was the first time the Blues trailed since the first period in their opener at Pittsburgh.

McCann made it 3-1 on a power play at 7:42 of the second, redirecting Radim Vrbata's shot.

''We never should have let them score a short-handed goal on our power play,'' Stastny said. ''That makes it 1-1 when we had a chance to go ahead 2-0.''

Ekblad gave the Panthers a 4-1 lead at 3:16 of the third when he took a pass from Jonathan Huberdeau in front and fired it past Allen. Bjugstad scored with 5:58 left made it 5-1.

''We knew we'd have to play a strong, smart game and we didn't do that,'' Blues coach Mike Yeo said. ''That first goal, then we give them a shorty, then give them power plays. That's a bad recipe against a good team.''

Dunn completed the scoring.

Midway through the second period, the Blues had a potential goal by Brayden Schenn waved off because of a high stick.

The Blues took a 1-0 lead in the second on a power-play wraparound goal by Stastny, who poked the puck past Luongo's right skate into the corner of the net at 1:14. McCoshen, playing his sixth NHL game, tied it 12 seconds later.

''Pretty much disbelief. Just tried to throw a puck on net,'' McCoshen said. ''Obviously, it's surreal scoring your first NHL goal.''

Notes: The first nine goals scored by the Panthers this season were each by a different player. Trocheck broke the streak with his second goal of the season.... Blues RW Owen Tippett, the No. 10 pick in the 2017 draft, was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. ... The Blues played their third game on the road in four nights.

UP NEXT:

Blues: At Tampa Bay on Saturday night.

Panthers: At Pittsburgh on Saturday night.

---

For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC.
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