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Game 43: Crushed Comeback

by Daniel Fung / Vancouver Canucks
Roberto Luongo was brilliant in his return to the Canucks' crease on Saturday night. Unfortunately his teammates weren't able to reward their netminder for his stellar effort.

Luongo, who returned to game action after missing the previous three games with a lower-body injury, made a season-high 46 saves but the skaters in front of him only managed a single goal as the Canucks fell 3-1 to the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.

Jeff Carter scored twice in the third period, including the eventual game-winner, to help the Kings snap a five-game losing streak. The loss extended the Canucks' winless skid to three games.

The Canucks carried a 1-0 lead into the final frame of Saturday's game on the strength of a Ryan Kesler power play marker in the first period but the Kings would equalize just 67 seconds into the third period with Dustin Brown pouncing on a fat rebound off a Justin Williams shot beating Luongo low blocker.

Carter would put the Kings up for good at 12:05 of the middle frame after taking a feed from Dwight King and ripped a hard wrist shot high glove on Luongo from the right faceoff circle. He would add his second of the night into an empty net with 10 seconds left in the game to seal the deal.

Luongo's sensational performance on Saturday in many ways overshadowed the fact the Kings were also welcoming a netminder back from injury.

Jonathan Quick, who missed 24 games with a strained groin, made his first start since November 12 and was solid in his return albeit being significantly less busy than his counterpart at the other end. He finished with 27 saves on 28 shots.

The Canucks close out their short California road trip tomorrow night when they take on the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks.

The Canucks certainly did not make it easy for Roberto Luongo in his return to the crease as they gave up a season-high 49 shots in the loss. Their previous season-high for most shots surrendered was 41 against the Bruins back on December 14. The 49 shots surrendered is the most they’ve given up in a regular season game since allowing 54 to Detroit back on March 20, 2010.

CHECKMATE: The Kings officially clinched the season series against the Canucks with their victory despite the fact the teams still have two meetings to go. Los Angeles has won all three head-to-head meetings this season collecting six out of a possible six points. Vancouver has just a single point earned from their overtime loss back on November 25. The Canucks remain stuck on 99 all-time regular season victories against the Kings.

NOTES AND NUMBERS: Ryan Kesler's goal was his first in 11 games but he still finished the night with a minus-two rating. He has a combined minus-six rating over his last three games... Tom Sestito and Zac Dalpe had their respective two-game point streaks snapped... Roberto Luongo remains stuck on 249 career victories as a Canuck... Kings' head coach Darryl Sutter coached in his 1,000th career NHL game.

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