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Louie, Louie: Roberto Luongo Likes The Billboard Apparently

Luongo If one person completely understands what Tomas Vokoun is going through right now, it’s Roberto Luongo.

The former Florida goaltender made sure to praise the current Panthers netminder prior to Thursday’s game, one in which Luongo shutout his old team 3-0 at BankAtlantic Center.

Despite strong play by Vokoun, the Panthers have now lost five straight and six of seven.

Those playoff hopes that were burning fairly bright a few days ago? All but gone.

“Everyone is disappointed,’’ said defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who may have played his final game with the Panthers on Thursday.

“This doesn’t help us. Everyone knows what we’re playing for. But it’s not working.’’

And go ahead and blame the offense. Afterward, it seemed like Vokoun wanted to not only blame someone, but perhaps punch one. Vokoun angrily packed his bags while muttering unprintable words under his breath. He declined official requests for comment.

Hard to blame him. Florida’s been shutout four times since Jan. 7 and has scored two goals or less for a franchise record 12 straight games. The previous record of 11 came during Luongo’s regime.

The Panthers are 4-7-1 in this 12 game offensive swoon, a stretch that has seriously hampered their progress in a tight Eastern Conference.

Florida is six points out of the final playoff spot and could have a different roster if general manager Randy Sexton can swing some deals before Friday’s 3 p.m. Olympic trade deadline.

“I’ll coach whatever we have here,’’ said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team will almost assuredly miss the playoffs for an NHL record-tying ninth straight season. “We have practice at 10:30 and whomever shows up is who we will work with.’’

As for Luongo, Thursday’s win was his 17th shutout in Sunrise – his adopted hometown. Luongo played for the Panthers from 2000-06.

The Panthers did challenge Luongo on Thursday, with six shots saved by the iron surrounding the Vancouver captain. A Bryan McCabe shot in the third period looked to be going in before defenseman Christian Ehrhoff swept it away before it went in.

“We hit a lot of pipes,’’ Keith Ballard said. “This was huge for us. We needed to get back, a little closer. This is two more points we didn’t get.’’

Luongo made 31 saves in the shutout, the 51st of his career.

Vokoun stopped 32 of 35 shots as his record dropped to 19-21-9.

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