Luongo solid in heartbreaking loss
Screened Voynov point shot with 43 seconds left beats Canucks netminder
It would be audacious to consider it an audition.
After everything Roberto Luongo has endured, enjoyed and extracted during seven seasons with the Canucks, imagine the franchise's best goalie having to prove his worth? And imagine doing it in a place where he went from starter to backup last April when Cory Schneider started the third game of the Western Conference quarterfinal series?
That's what it has become for Luongo.
With general manager Mike Gillis knowing that at some point - and it could take 10 games to evaluate the team, the injury situation and the trade market - he'll have to move the prime asset to satisfy roster needs and allow Schneider to wear the starter's crown without his head on a swivel. Amid all this, Luongo proved his trade value could climb higher after nearly backstopping a regulation-time win Monday over the Los Angeles Kings. It was spoiled when Slava Voynov's screened point shot with Jonathan Quick pulled beat Luongo to the far side with 43 seconds left to make it 2-2.
And when the outcome had to be settled by a shootout, it was a Jeff Carter backhand that gave the Kings a 3-2 victory.
The Canucks got earlier goals from Zack Kassian and Alex Burrows but were often outplayed. They had trouble in the faceoff circle and on the power play and kept icing the puck in the third period to preserve the lead.
Luongo has been telling anyone within earshot that his ego has been put aside and Gillis has the green light to complete a deal the goalie can accept or veto. He doesn't want to be bothered by the day-to-day speculation about how he's feeling and a preferred destination. He just wants to play. Especially after those two home-ice losses in the playoffs and many believing that April 13 would be his last in a Canucks uniform.
When Luongo got a pad on a hot Dustin Brown shot in the opening two minutes, he exacted some immediate revenge. The Kings captain scored two short-handed goals on Luongo in the second game of that playoff series. For good measure Luongo stopped Brown again early in the third period and before the centre landed on his lap and took an interference call.
When Luongo went post-to-post to thwart Jarret Stoll off a cross-ice feed from Trevor Lewis early in the first period, it served notice that what could be his last Staples Center appearance would be memorable. The last one wasn't when the Canucks fell 4-1 here on Dec. 31, 2011.
Once Luongo established a strong presence, it was winger Kassian who again proved he knows where to go and how to stay there to open the scoring. It was an Alex Edler point shot that Quick stopped, but Kassian banged the rebound out of mid-air at 13: 08 for his team-high fourth goal of the season.
The Canucks then built a two-goal cushion in the second period after Luongo made an acrobatic glove save off Jake Muzzin's backhander from the slot. Burrows took a Chris Higgins feed behind the Kings' net and first faked to his right and Quick bit. The winger then went the other way and wrapped the puck between the goalie's skate and leg at 4: 05.
Despite the saves, the Canucks were being badly outplayed in the period and a Chris Tanev pass led to the Kings' first power-play goal of the season by Jeff Carter to end an 0-for25 funk. Jason Garrison couldn't get the puck around the boards and a Mike Richards shot bounced off Kevin Bieksa and right to Carter. Luon-go got a piece of the far-side shot that beat him at 15: 21.
Luongo played all four regular-season games against the Kings last season in which the Canucks held a 2-1-1 series edge. He had a sparkling 1.96 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. Entering Monday's game, his career numbers against the Kings were 14-9-3, with a 2.23 GAA and .921 save percentage.? ?
3 2 GAME OVER
Colorado at Vancouver
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