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Canucks Report - Luongo, Raymond head to Montreal

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

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It wasn't the way the team wanted to head into the All Star break. The Canucks were dealt a disappointing 2-1 loss in overtime last night as the Sharks came from behind to claim the win and avoid losing, for what would have been only the second time in regulation at home this season.

The players put in a solid effort, but were ultimately unable to beat the Sharks and send captain Roberto Luongo off to the NHL All Star game on a high note.

Luongo, the Canucks' strongest player of the game, heads to Montreal to participate in the All Star weekend. Mason Raymond will follow in suit, taking part in the NHL YoungStars. Some of his teammates will use their break to relax and others like Mats Sundin will fly home to Vancouver and use the extra days off to train.

The Canucks now 22-19-7 need to build upon last night's effort when they return to GM Place on Monday, January 26th for practice and create a winning streak as the playoff push draws near.

"We played a great hockey game out there," said Willie Mitchell. "It's a learning experience because we're going to see this team again if we get to where we want to be, and we need to learn how to win these 1-0 games."

"We worked like animals for 59 minutes and played exactly the way we wanted to play against them," said Luongo. "Unfortunately, they got that goal at the end. We knew coming in here it would be a good challenge for us. There was no pressure on our shoulders, and we played a great game within our system. We need to finish games, but we're starting to play well as a team."

Luongo showed no rust in his third game back after missing 24 with a groin injury, turning away 25 shots and keeping the Sharks’ stars off the score sheet until the last minute of regulation.

The star goaltender silenced anyone wondering whether he had come back too early, and proved why he will be featured in this weekend’s All Star game.

"[Luongo] had a great game, and we let it get away," said Daniel Sedin. "We played the best team in the league, and we were 35 seconds from a win. It's never easy to shake these games off. I wish we could play right away, because we are playing so well and we want to keep it going."

Defenceman Sami Salo returned to the lineup after missing 15 games with a fractured rib, logging 20:07 minutes of ice time and one shot on net. Vancouver's defence was solid last night as Vigneault's new combinations played their system well.

Taylor Pyatt opened scoring in the first, netting his second goal in as many games, roofing a Henrik Sedin pass. The goal held until the dying seconds of the third when the Sharks attacked, preserving their impressive home record.

Evengi Nabokov made 13 saves before heading to the bench, and with the extra attacker pressing Devin Setoguchi netted the tying goal with 39 seconds left to play. The hard fought battle continued into overtime. Daniel Sedin was called for a hooking penalty halfway through the five minute period. On the man-advantage the Sharks' captain, Patrick Marleau, put the game away.

"On their winning goal, obviously I thought the play should have been blown [dead]” said head coach Alain Vigneault. “You can't be poking your stick into the goaltender when the goalie's got the puck under him. But two referees thought differently."

The San Jose squad showed exactly why they are the best team in the league when they switched into a higher gear to push the game to overtime and eventually secure the win. After the final whistle had blown a scrum broke out as the teams headed to the locker rooms. Words and shoves were exchanged before both teams retired to their rooms.
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