Moment of silence, uniform patches among Panthers' tribute to Florida shooting victims

The Florida Panthers honored the victims of the shooting at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

On Thursday, the Panthers faced the Washington Capitals -- Florida's first home game since the Feb. 14 shooting. There was a moment of silence before the game as well as an extended tribute featuring video and speakers, similar to what the Vegas Golden Knights produced for their Oct. 10 home opener after a mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that month.

The darkened ice at BB&T Center was then illuminated with 17 circles of light, with a student's name inside each one.

Seventeen people died when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which is about 10 miles from the Panthers' arena in Sunrise and just less than four miles from their practice facility in Coral Springs. Many Panthers employees and players -- including goalie Roberto Luongo and captain Derek MacKenzie -- live in the neighborhood and have children enrolled in the school district.

Luongo, a Parkland resident, gave an emotional statement about the bravery of those who lost their lives trying to save others and how inspiring the students have been coping with the tragedy.

"The first 10 minutes of the game was very difficult. I was not in a zone, that's a good way to put it. Emotions were still running high from the ceremony,'' said Luongo, who lives in Parkland, where the shooting occurred.

Luongo made 33 saves in his third game since returning from a groin injury to lead the Panthers to a 3-2 victory. Vincent Trocheck scored the winning goal with 19.1 seconds left for Florida, who celebrated his go-ahead goal by encouraging fellow players to sign his stick. He plans on donating it to the students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas..

Players from both teams stood for the ceremony, some wiping tears from their eyes.

"We had little angels helping us tonight to help us pull out a big win here,'' Luongo said.

The Panthers wore decal stickers Thursday on their helmets and "MSD" patches on their sweaters. They debuted those additions during their road game at Calgary on Saturday and will continue to wear them for the rest of the season.

"I thought Louie did a heck of a job with his speech and to get in net and to throw a performance out like that after, it was one of the most impressive things I've seen in a long time,'' Panthers coach Bob Boughner said.

A blood drive outside the arena started seven hours before the puck dropped Thursday to help replenish local blood banks. Within the first three hours, there were almost 200 donors. The team is collecting monetary donations and conducting a 50/50 raffle for the Stoneman Douglas Victims' Fund. The Florida Panthers Foundation and the NHL will match donations and contribute $50,000 to the raffle.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.