Skip to main content

Luongo, Demitra pace Canucks past Leafs

by Brian Compton /
Roberto Luongo's return to Earth continued on Saturday night, but that didn't stop the Vancouver Canucks from winning for the fourth time in five games.

Luongo stopped 28 of 30 shots, while Pavol Demitra had three assists in his return after missing the previous 10 games with a rib injury as the Canucks earned a 4-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at GM Place.

Luongo, who saw his franchise-record shutout streak of 242 minutes 36 seconds end during a loss to Colorado on Wednesday, made some key saves in the first period. With the Leafs on a two-man advantage, Luongo got a right pad on a blast from the point from Pavel Kubina, then stopped Tomas Kaberle in close for two of his five saves on the man advantage. The Canucks were outshot 13-6 in the first period but managed to escape with a 2-0 lead. The Leafs, playing their first game in Vancouver since Jan. 10, 2006, outshot the Canucks 30-15.

"Luongo played a really good game," Leafs defenseman Jeff Finger said. "That 5-on-3, he held them in there. That swung the momentum and we weren't able to dig out of the hole."

Toronto finished a three-game swing through Western Canada with two losses and a win. Vancouver wrapped up a six-game homestand with a 4-1-1 record. Luongo recorded shutouts in three of those victories.

The Canucks begin a four-game road trip on Monday night against the New York Islanders. They will also visit the Rangers, Minnesota and Pittsburgh before returning home to face Detroit a week from Monday.

While Luongo has been remarkable as of late, Vancouver's captain is more concerned with garnering victories rather than individual accolades.

"I don't really think about it," Luongo said. "It has been a pretty good stretch. You just want to make sure you carry it over, now that we're (going) on the road. Points are going to be tougher to come by, and we're going to have to play a great game as a team if we want to get the two points. For me, it's just a matter of building on every game."

Kyle Wellwood, whom Vancouver claimed on waivers from the Leafs over the summer, opened the scoring at 7:13. The 25-year-old deflected a pass from Demitra over goaltender Vesa Toskala's shoulder for his team-leading seventh goal in 11 games. Ryan Kesler extended Vancouver's lead when collected a rebound off a Mattias Ohlund shot and lifted it past Toskala during a power play at 18:02.

"That was definitely a nice goal to get," Wellwood admitted. "This is a game I was trying to get the guys hyped up for in the dressing room. It was a really good team effort on our part."

Demitra applauded Wellwood's efforts and believes there are more good things to come from the potent combination.

"Playing with a guy like that, he's a very skilled guy," Demitra said. "He's very smart on the ice and he can read. He's got unbelievable patience and has a great touch. It was very easy to play with him and we're hoping to score many more goals."

Vancouver ended Toskala's night by scoring a pair of goals in just under five minutes in the second period. It started with Willie Mitchell's first goal of the season, as he one-timed a shot from Alex Burrows at 3:35. Daniel Sedin made it 4-0 less than five minutes later with his sixth of the season. Curtis Joseph finished the game in net for Toronto.

"It makes our offense a lot more dynamic, more spread out," Kesler said of Demitra's return. "We have four lines going now."

Luongo's shutout bid came to an end in the third period. Ian White made it 4-1 at 14:53 before Matt Stajan scored on the power play with 2:30 remaining. Toronto outshot Vancouver 12-6 in the third. The Leafs went 1-for-8 on the power play.

"You don't like to give up goals at any time of the game, no matter what the situation is," Luongo said. "I wasn't too happy about, but we got the two points. We found a way to get it done, even though I didn't think we played our best game tonight."

Material from wire services was used in this report.

View More