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One for the Keeper

by Kyle Harland / Vancouver Canucks
Even Roberto Luongo has off-nights.

Usually it’s Bobby Lou keeping his teammates in the game, but it was a different story in the Canucks 3-2 shootout win against the Islanders. The Franchise Foundation was uncharacteristically fooled on two flukey goals, but the rest of the team was able to pick up the slack and rescue the game.

“[Luongo’s] bailed us out so many times from so many tough situations,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “I’m really happy we were able to get a win for him tonight.”

Even though the game went to a shootout, Vigneault said the game shouldn’t have been close. And Bill Guerin agreed. “Honestly, it was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters in our end for a little while. We were running around in our own end – it was disappointing.”

Despite the fact that the Canucks outplayed, out-chanced, out-shot, and out-insert-pretty-much-any-hockey-term-you-want-here, they only managed two goals. Rick DiPietro was the first star of the night, stopping 43 of the Canucks’ 45 shots.

But he was the only impressive Islander. The team from Long Island managed to pick up their play a bit after the first 20 minutes, but was still only able to score on what Vigneault called “lucky bounces.”

Guerin scored the Islanders’ first goal by banking it in off Luongo, who thought the play was offside. “I saw the ref had his arm up, but I don’t want to really use that as an excuse,” said Luongo. “You gotta stay with the play ‘cause stuff like that happens.”

The second goal was no less frustrating, as Luongo lost the puck in his feet behind the net. “I went to stop it and then I couldn’t find the puck. I knew it was in my skates, so I lifted my right but unfortunately it was the wrong one.” The puck then squirted in front to Blake Comeau who easily tapped it in to take a 2-1 lead.

At the other end of the rink, the Canucks were getting no such luck with Rick DiPietro. “Obviously the factor in this game was their goaltending,” said Vigneault. “It shouldn’t have been close. It was close. We’ve been on the other side of a lot of those games where our goaltender’s keeping us in and making it a game. That’s what their guy did tonight, and I’m really happy with everything we did – except maybe score more goals.”

But it wasn’t easy to score on DiPietro. Markus Naslund and Daniel Sedin were the only Canucks who were able to put the puck past him. “Ricky made some big saves for us,” said Islanders’ coach Ted Nolan. “He’s been terrific.”

Once the game went into a shootout, however, Luongo returned to his usual form, a form that justified the day’s news that he’d be starting in net for the Western Conference All-Star team.

Louie stopped five of six shooters to collect the win. The modest goaltender didn’t have much good to say about his performance in regulation, but didn’t sell himself short on the breakaway contest. “What a performance in the shootout!” he said of himself, jokingly. “Ended off on a strong note.

“The guys worked really hard tonight. That’s why it would have been disappointing if we didn’t get the two points,” said Louie.

After seeing Roberto steal games for the team’s skaters all year long, it was great to see the skaters pull one out of the bag for the goalie.

2 – clear breakaways for Byron Ritchie on the same shift

3 – straight seasons Danny Sedin has hit the 20-goal mark

8 – years since the Islanders traded Luongo. They haven’t won a Stanley Cup in that time frame either. Coincidence? Or the curse of the Luongino?

14 – consecutive home games the Canucks haven’t lost in regulation (12-0-2)

45 – shots on goal for the Canucks, setting a season record

You can’t find much that’s bad with an offense that musters 45 shots in 65 minutes.

Vigneault’s line switching of moving Raymond to the top line with the Sedins and Naslund down to the second line seemed to work.

They would have scored more if only they hadn’t run into Rick DiPietro.

It was a little spotty in the second, but for a large portion of the game wouldn’t let the Islanders anywhere near Luongo.

The Canucks played on the power play for 12:23, and still couldn’t find the back of the net (0-7). They seemed to play better 5-on-5.

They were 100% on the PK, but then, they only had to worry about that for 18 seconds all game.
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