Luongo keeps Canucks afloat until Demitra sinks Bruins


Roberto Luongo returned from a rest. <BR><BR>


More on This Story

BOSTON — Roberto Luongo returned from a rest.

Pavol Demitra came back from hibernation.

The Vancouver Canucks dodged a three-game National Hockey League losing streak Saturday with a 41-save performance by Luongo that allowed his team to come back from a two-goal deficit and beat the Boston Bruins 3-2 in a shootout.

Despite being badly outplayed and outshot 25-12 through two periods by a Boston team that has lost 10 straight, the Canucks rallied in the third period on Demitra’s first goal in 10 games since returning from a shoulder injury. They then pilfered two points when the Slovak winger deked Tuukka Rask in the shootout.

“It was huge relief,” Demitra said. “After last couple of games when I missed a couple of, like, great chances, I was like: ‘OK, I guess I’m never going to score again.’ I just have to keep working hard and keep pushing it and hopefully it’s going to get better and better. I know I can play much better. This goal helps a lot.”

Canuck coach Alain Vigneault moved Demitra up to the second line, playing him with Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond in what could be a last chance for the 35-year-old to stay in the lineup.

Luongo returned to the lineup after being granted a mental-health day Thursday in Ottawa, where the workhorse netminder asked to sit out in order to rejuvenate himself.

Must have worked because the Canuck captain was largely responsible for the keeping his team from getting blown out early.

His 41 saves included at least 10 outnumbered rushes.

Luongo made seven saves in overtime and blanked the Bruins in the shootout.

The Canucks would have lost in regulation had the goalie not stuffed Blake Wheeler on a breakaway about three minutes before Demitra’s deflection tied it 2-2 at 15:18.

“Did I look refreshed?” Luongo asked with a smile. “I was just worried about my own game tonight and being as solid as I could throughout the whole game to give my team a chance to win.

“We’ve done it many times this year where we’ve been down and come back in the third, so tonight was another big comeback.”

Lingering behind the play, Demitra tied it 2-2 by tipping in Tanner Glass’ opportunistic shot after Bruin Milan Lucic overskated the puck, creating a turnover inside the Boston blue-line.

After talking much about starting better and scoring first in order to increase their chances of winning, the Canucks instead followed their losing blueprint.

Just as they had during the 3-1 loss in Ottawa, the Canucks took a first-minute penalty and were unable to kill it. Glass was called for boarding at 38 seconds, and at 1:56 Zdeno Chara had an easy back-post conversion to make it 1-0 as Canuck penalty-killers Raymond and Christian Ehrhoff seemed confused about the responsibility for checking the Bruin defenceman.

The Boston power play made it 2-for-2 and 2-0 at 14:20, when Michael Ryder deflected Marc Savard’s wrist shot from the point after Glass left the shooting lane open.

Vancouver’s power play was awful.

The Canucks overhandled the puck, frequently turned it over and struggled to get across the Bruins’ blue-line to set up.

The Canucks were able to climb into the game only on Luongo’s timely saves and a heroic effort along the boards by Ryan Kesler, who set up Raymond’s goal that made it 2-1 at 8:51 of the middle period.

Kesler twice won a puck battle, knocking down Lucic, before centring to Raymond, whose quick forehand move beat goalie Rask stick-side.

Meantime, Canuck general manager Mike Gillis denied there is any rift between the team and star prospect Cody Hodgson. He said Hodgson is no longer training under Canuck player-development guru Dave Gagner because Gagner has moved to Vancouver. Gagner will continue to have contact with Hodgson, as he does all Canuck prospects, to monitor and help shape his development, Gillis said.

Vancouver Sun

Your voice