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Lack, Canucks top Luongo's Panthers in shootout

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Roberto Luongo saw a lot of familiar faces Sunday when he played the Vancouver Canucks for the first time since they traded him.

But it was one of the few players with whom he had never been teammates who helped the Canucks defeat Luongo and the Florida Panthers.

Nicklas Jensen, recalled from Utica of the American Hockey League three days after Luongo was traded to the Panthers, scored the only goal in the shootout to give Vancouver a 4-3 victory at BB&T Center.

"I???wasn't there when he got called up; I???had already been gassed,"???Luongo said with a smile. "I wish he would have been called up when I was playing. We could have used a few more goals in the shootout when I was there, but what are you going to do?"

Eddie Lack, whose ascent to No. 1 goalie status in Vancouver led to Luongo being traded, stopped all three Panthers attempts in the shootout, clinching the victory when he turned away Brandon Pirri in the second half of the third round.

Vancouver improved to 5-7 in shootouts this season; Florida is 7-6.

"I challenged him to a goalie fight when we chatted before the game, but he didn't want to go,"???joked Lack, who stopped 26 shots through regulation and overtime. "It was strange to see him at the other end of the ice, but I'm sure he felt the same way looking down at our end."

Luongo, who was dealt to Florida the day before the NHL???Trade Deadline, made 29 saves two nights after stopping 28 shots to defeat his former goalie partner in Vancouver, Cory Schneider, who is playing for the New Jersey Devils.

As was the case with Schneider on Friday, Luongo said he wanted to see his former teammate have a good game.

"I wanted him to play well given what's been going on since I've been gone,"???Luongo said of Lack. "I was happy for him, especially that he was able to make some big saves in OT there for their team."

Luongo said after the game Friday he anticipated facing Vancouver being weird. He said it didn't turn out that way.

"It was normal,”???Luongo said. "After a few minutes, once you get into the flow of things, you're not really thinking about that kind of stuff. It was good. It was a fun game to be part of. Either way, I'm fine with it. I was looking forward to playing against the boys. Now that it's done, you can just focus on the rest of the season and into next year."

Though there no doubt had to be some satisfaction in beating Luongo, the Canucks more importantly got a much-needed victory Sunday in their quest to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Vancouver (31-29-10)???came into the game five points behind the Dallas Stars and the Phoenix Coyotes for the last wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Dallas faced the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night; Phoenix was idle.

Vancouver is 2-1-0 on a four-game road trip that ends Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"We have to win every game and we're looking to make this a really good trip,"???Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "It's a huge opportunity for us to get a win tomorrow night and get back in the [playoff] talk."

Alexandre Burrows had a goal and two assists, and Dan Hamhuis and Jensen scored for the Canucks. Henrik Sedin had two assists.

Burrows, who missed 32 games this season because of injuries, scored his first two goals of the season in a 3-2 shootout victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday,

"I asked [Luongo] to let me score a goal and he did, but that just shows you how good of a guy he is,"???Burrows said. "I got some bounces again. I was around the net; it was a case of some pucks finding me. Right now, the body feels good and (the focus now) is to just try to make it into the playoffs."

Jimmy Hayes had two power-play goals and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida (25-36-7), which lost for the ninth time in 12 games and will embark on a four-game West Coast trip starting against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Hayes (6-foot-6) has five goals in nine games since being put on the power play upon the return from the Olympic break.

"You can't teach size, so first things that happens is it creates rebounds down there,"?????????Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. "He has good hands. He kind of fancies himself as a goal-scorer. First thing you've got to do is say, you're in front of the net, you're not standing at the top. You've got to get him to think that's the place where goals are going to be scored, it's the place he can do the most damage and be the most beneficial to our team. He's taken on that and he wants to do it."

After Florida killed off a double-minor penalty, Hayes tied the game 3-3 with his second goal with 1:35 left in the third period. Hayes scored on a rebound after Lack stopped his deflection of a Brian Campbell slap shot.

"I?????????knew right away it was going to a shootout,"?????????Luongo said of Hayes' second goal. "That was just the destiny that we had."

Burrows gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead at 5:34 of the third with a power-play goal. With Scottie Upshall in the box for tripping. Burrows scored on his second rebound after Luongo stopped Alexander Edler's slap shot from the point.

Bieksa preserved the Vancouver lead midway through the third period when he made a kick save of a midair deflection by Florida's Colby Robak while standing in the crease.

Vancouver led 2-1 after two periods before Trocheck tied it at 4:19 with his second goal in two games. Trocheck, whose first NHL?????????goal was an empty-netter in the 5-3 victory against New Jersey, scored on a wraparound.

In an otherwise uneventful first two periods, the teams combined for three goals in a span of 2:07 late in the first.

Hayes opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 16:28 when he tipped Tom Gilbert's wrist shot from the high slot.

Hamhuis tied the game at 17:42 off a faceoff when his slap shot from the point hit Robak's skate, bounced off the ice and up over the right shoulder of Luongo.

Vancouver took the lead 53 seconds later when Burrows fed Jensen for a one-timer from the left circle. It was the second goal in two games for Jensen, who scored his first NHL?????????goal in a 4-3 loss against the Washington Capitals on Friday.

After a scoreless second period, the action picked up considerably in the third period, and that set the stage for the drama that ended the Luongo-Canucks reunion.

"He came in [to the dressing room] before and a few of us had a nice conversation with him,”?????????Bieksa said. "It's still weird to see him on the other side and I think he feels a little awkward. He's been a Vancouver Canuck for so many years and to be playing against us has to feel strange.

"It's fitting that it goes down to a shootout against him. Him and Eddie were joking about having it end in a 0-0 tie and just calling it a game, but we had other plans."

Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau, the 2013 Calder Trophy winner, didn't play in the final two periods after sustaining an upper-body injury. He joined a long list of injured Panthers players that includes Aleksander Barkov, Tomas Kopecky, Sean Bergenheim, Erik Gudbranson and Jesse Winchester.

Horachek said after the game he had no update on Huberdeau's status and didn't know whether he would be on the trip. Horachek said Bergenheim, who has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, would join his teammates on the West Coast.

The teams split the season series. Florida won at Vancouver 3-2 on Nov. 19 when Huberdeau beat Luongo for the only goal in the shootout.

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