|Canucks' goalie Roberto Luongo put forth another strong effort, but it was not enough as Vancouver could only muster 20 shots on goal as they fell 2-1 to the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
But his teammates did not, as the Vancouver Canucks mustered only 20 shots on goal in a 2-1 loss to the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
''The bottom line is they wanted it more than us tonight,'' Luongo said. ''That's why they won.''
Luongo, who entered the game with three consecutive shutouts, saw his streak end at 210:34, when Eric Belanger beat the Canucks’ netminder at the 16:34 mark of the first period ( 700K ). Belanger parked himself in front and was able to redirect Sean Hill’s shot from the point past Luongo for his sixth goal of the season. It was the lone tally of the period, as Vancouver was outshot by a 12-4 margin.
It was a far cry from what the Canucks have done as of late. They entered the game with a record of 9-1-2 in their last 12 games, helping Luongo post a 1.45 GAA over that span.
''Without Roberto in net it probably would have been over after 20 minutes,'' Canucks defenseman Mattias Ohlund said.
But Vancouver was able to tie things up when Mike Brown beat Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom for his first NHL goal ( 700K ). Brown, who had three points in 17 games for AHL Manitoba before being promoted, deflected a shot from Lukas Krajicek past Backstrom at the 5:39 mark of the second period.
But Aaron Voros potted what proved to be the game-winner late in the second period ( 700K ). A Vancouver native, Voros lifted a feed from Marion Gaborik over Luongo’s shoulder for his fourth goal of the season.
''I haven't seemed to be having a very good grip on the pucks the past two games,” Voros said.
“It just seems to bounce off my stick down low. I kind of lost it down in the corner. Then Gabby came, picked it up, and I just tried to get it upstairs with the guy holding my back. I was fortunate for it to go in.''
Minnesota coach Jacques Lemaire was pleased to see the scrappy forward get rewarded. He also loves the enthusiasm Voros brings to the club both on and off the ice.
“He scores a goal, it’s like his first goal ever,” Lemaire said. “He’s happy. When a linemate scores, it’s like his first goal ever. He’s great. He’s got a lot of life on the bench. He goes on the ice and does what he has to do.”
Neither team found the back of the net in the third period, as the Canucks failed to generate much offensively until the final minute, when Luongo was pulled for an extra attacker. Vancouver registered four shots on goal in the last 60 seconds, but it couldn’t get the equalizer.
''We played 40 minutes very sloppy, and the third I don't think we came up to a normal standard,'' Ohlund said. ''If we play on our heels and not work the way we can and have, we're not going to create enough to score goals.''
More importantly, the Canucks will place added pressure on Luongo’s shoulders. Forward Ryan Kesler was disappointed his team didn’t do more offensively to help the world-class netminder.
''To put all the pressure on him is something we can't do,'' Kesler said. ''He's probably the best goaltender in the league, and that's something we can't take advantage of because it's going to bite us in the (rear) someday.''
Luongo, who finished with 28 saves, kept the Canucks in the game early with big saves against Gaborik in the opening period. He also gloved a slap shot by Nick Schultz in the third period to keep Vancouver within a goal.
''He played as good as I have seen him play,'' Lemaire said. ''We had a lot of great chances, good shots from angles, or even in front in the high slot.”
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault certainly would like to see his team play a more disciplined game than the one it played on Sunday. Vancouver handed the Wild seven power plays over the course of the contest. The Canucks, meanwhile, went just 0-for-2 with the man advantage.
''We gave them seven power plays tonight, and three of the penalties were things that you just can't do if you want to win games,'' Vigneault said. ''They got momentum off their power play, and the two power plays we had I don't think we generated a shot.''
Meanwhile, the Wild will look for their fifth straight win on Wednesday night, when they host the Philadelphia Flyers. Minnesota forward Brian Rolston is confident that Sunday’s win will provide plenty of momentum.
“These are ones that we can build on,” Rolston said. “Obviously, our goaltending has been tremendous too when it needs to be, and it’s nice to get that.”
Material from wire services and team online and broadcast media were used in this report.