Vancouver Canucks forward Chris Higgins controls the puck as goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets defends the net during the Canucks-Blue Jackets National Hockey League game on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Photograph by: Jamie Sabau, NHLI via Getty Images
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Vancouver Canucks have found all kinds of ways to lose hockey games the last month, but they finally won one Tuesday and it was by shootout, no less.
Roberto Luongo, usually so-so in National Hockey League shootouts, was perfect against the Columbus Blue Jackets as the Canucks prevailed 2-1.
“The shootout hasn’t always been kind to us but we found a way to get it done tonight,” said Luongo, who was also stellar throughout regulation and overtime. “Those guys were on a pretty hot streak and playing extremely well and their goalie (Sergei Bobrovsky) has been out of this world. We were able to grind one out.”
The victory put an end to Vancouver’s four-game losing slide and also snapped the Jackets’ five-game win streak. Mason Raymond, using his patented spin-o-rama move, netted the lone shootout goal. An otherwise superb Bobrovsky bit on the Raymond move, leaving the Canuck winger with a yawning cage. He didn’t miss.
“I had a good idea I was going to do that move, for sure,” Raymond said. “The win was huge, for Lou and for everybody. It got us back on a winning streak heading back home.”
The Blue Jackets felt Raymond had come to a full stop and wanted the benefit of a replay to determine whether it was a legal goal. Referees Wes McCauley and Gord Dwyer were having none of it.
“I’m surprised they didn’t at least check,” said Blue Jacket centre Ryan Johansen. “Why not check?”
“I was trying to get their attention but nobody was moving,” added Columbus coach Todd Richards. “To me it looks like the puck is moving backwards.”
The league did actually review it in the war room and ruled it legitimate.
Luongo, meanwhile, stopped Johansen, Matt Calvert and, finally, Mark Letestu in the shootout. He also stopped 26 in regulation and overtime and admitted he was happy to see Letestu taking the third Blue Jacket shot. Since Raymond had scored in Round 2, Luongo only needed the Round 3 save to sew up the victory.
“I was especially happy that Letestu made that move because I had it scouted,” explained Bobby Lou, who poke-checked the puck off the shooter’s stick. “I was able to get right on top of him when he went to the forehand there. He scored on me with the same move high glove and, in his last shootout against Edmonton, he did the same thing. So I was waiting for it this time.
“Luckily, he didn’t go backhand or I would have looked pretty silly.”
Bobrovsky, meanwhile, demonstrated his ‘player of the week’ form as he turned away 38 Canuck shots in the 65 minutes before the shootout. He had ample help from his teammates, who blocked 27 shots. The Canucks also missed the net another seven times for a grand total of 72 pucks directed toward the Columbus net.
That’s a lot of work for just one goal, a Jason Garrison slapper at 16:11 of the middle period that pulled Vancouver into the 1-1 tie. Letestu, on his own rebound, had given the Jackets a 1-0 lead early in that period.
The Garrison strike came two seconds after the expiration of a Canuck power play so it went into the books as a 5-on-5 goal, extending Vancouver’s power-play drought to a full nine games. It is 0-for-26 since Alex Burrows scored in Dallas on Feb. 21.
No one in the Canuck dressing room really cared about that streak, however. Or being able to score just once on 72 attempted shots.
“We were doing a lot of the right things and that’s all you can ask,” said Canuck head coach Alain Vigneault. “The players prepared, came out and executed. For the first two periods, I really liked our game. I wasn’t obviously crazy about part of the third and I thought we were on our heels a little bit. That being said, we still were capable of bringing it to overtime and winning it in a shootout.
“There were a lot of parts of our game that I liked and our goaltending was excellent,” he added. “In a shootout, it’s about getting a save or two from your goaltender and Mason made a real nice move. It was a real nice win for us.”
The Canucks stayed over in Columbus and will fly home Wednesday morning. They meet the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena on Thursday to open a four-game homestand.
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks made one change to their blue-line as Cam Barker took Keith Ballard’s spot in the lineup ... Blue Jackets’ centre Brandon Dubinsky returned after missing 11 games with a knee injury.
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