A win for Louie
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Roberto Luongo performed in net.
The Vancouver Canucks routinely say it was important they won because of how well |
Louie stands on his head more often than not to help the Canucks win and sometimes the team just can’t find a way to score to help him out.
Winning one for captain Luongo took on a whole new significance Saturday afternoon as the all-star netminder went down in the first period of Vancouver’s 3-1 win.
Luongo was injured just 4:54 into the opening frame on a harmless play in the Vancouver zone. Reacting to a Penguins’ point shot that was blocked by Rob Davison prior to hitting the net, Luongo went down into a butterfly position and pushed with his left leg to slide across the crease.
Something tweaked as he was attempting to move to his right and as Luongo laid motionless on his chest while being tended to my Vancouver’s medical staff, teammates and fans held their breath in unicon.
“You hate to see your teammate go down like that, we all care about him, and he’s obviously the biggest part of our team,” said Curtis Sanford, who took over between the pipes.
It has been revealed that Luongo suffered a pulled groin; he will undergo an MRI upon the team returning to Vancouver. Manitoba Moose starting goaltender Cory Schneider will likely be recalled for Monday’s game as a precaution.
The injury occurred so quickly that the Canucks almost forgot there was a game to be played; even with Luongo in the dressing room, there was still two points on the line.
The PHD line – that’s what the cool kids are calling the line of Pavol Demitra, Henrik and Daniel Sedin these days – provided all the offence Vancouver needed in winning their third consecutive game.
Demitra opened the scoring with less than two minutes to go in the first period. Daniel and Henrik got him the puck to the left of Pittsburgh’s Dany Sabourin and the red-hot forward did the rest.
Demitra shot from the left side then circled around the back of the net to tuck his initial shot in from the right side. Pretty goal, maybe a little lucky, nonetheless 1-0 Canucks.
Daniel doubled the lead 6:50 into the second with his team-leading ninth goal of the season on a great individual effort. Then with the Canucks up 2-1 late in the final period, it was Sedin-Sedin-Demitra for an empty net goal.
“He likes to play the same way we do,” said Daniel, explaining the chemistry he and Henrik have formed with Demitra.
“We need a guy who can shoot the puck and go to the net and I think all three of us have been doing a decent job of that.”
Scoring was crucial with Luongo out of the game, but so too was shutting down Pittsburgh’s snipers, namely Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Vancouver’s checking line once again did a tremendous job on the dynamic duo, holding the pair to zero points despite them combining for 47:12 of ice-time. They had only four shots on net and Pittsburgh as a team recorded just 19.
“The guys played awesome today,” said Sanford. “To only give that team 19 shots on goal, we did a great job.
“You always have to know where [Crosby & Malkin] are, it’s plain and simple. They’re two of the best players in the league, so we were prepared for them, our guys did a tremendous job.”
Sandman made 17 saves for the Canucks while being thrust into action just two nights after starting for the first time in 34 days. Other than a weak Michael Zigomanis’ wrist shot in the second period, he was airtight.
“The guys played solid out there,” Sanford said, “they made life as easy as possible on me and it’s just great to come out of here with two points.”
The Canucks now have points in nine consecutive games as they finish their four-game Eastern swing with a 3-0-1 record.
“This is great,” said Daniel. “None of them have been lucky either; we’ve been playing really good and really deserving to win. It’s a good feeling right now and we need to keep this going at home.”
Vancouver played inspired hockey in winning one for Luongo, yet the Canucks were filled with emotion even before Bobby Lu went down.
Just 25 seconds after puck drop, former Canuck Matt Cooke took a run at Alex Edler with a dirty low hip-check in the Penguins zone.
Edler was fine; the same can’t be said for Cooke.
Jannik Hansen, known for his fighting as much as he is for wearing his jersey backwards, jumped in for his fallen comrade and fought Cooke in what became an all-out brawl with eight guys separately going at it on the ice.
Hansen and Cooke were the only players hoofed from the game, but this was another example of how tight this Vancouver team has become in standing up for each other.
“If someone goes down, guys step up,” said enforcer Shane O’Brien. “Like you saw on the first shift today, if one guy goes in there, we’re all coming in.”
“That was a joke,” added Ryan Kesler. “[Cooke] has no respect for guys on the ice and it’s good that Jannik stuck up for Edler like that, that just shows how much character and how much we mean to each other on this team.”
They’re tight-knit and they’re tough to beat, and two points went to Vancouver in Steeltown because of it.
2– Wins this season for goaltender Curtis Sanford
3 – Wins this season for Vancouver against Eastern Conference teams
7 – Points for the Canucks on their four-game road trip
8 – Combined points for Demitra and the Sedins against Pittsburgh
11 – Wins for the Canucks when allowing three or fewer goals in a game (11-2-2)
Vancouver's success on offence revolved around Demitra and the Sedins. They combined for eight points and all three goals.
Lines were juggled throughout the game with Jannik Hansen having been tossed early in the first, and nobody could get it going other than the top line.
Alex Burrow and Ryan Kesler had five shots total, but no real scoring chances came from the pair.
This was another masterful performance by the defence of the Canucks.
The biggest challenge was keeping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the scoresheet, Vancouver did that with relative ease.
The gasps when Roberto Luongo left were replaced with cheers for Curtis Sanford as he filled in nicely making 17 saves for his second straight win.
No power play goals were scored in this game, Vancouver went 0-for-2, Pittsburgh was 0-for-4.
The Canucks are now 19th in the league on the power play and 18th on the penalty kill.