The Vancouver Canucks won a game Sunday night, but it may have come at a hefty price.
Christopher Tanev broke a 1-1 tie midway through the third period and Eddie Lack made 15 saves in relief of Roberto Luongo in the Canucks' 2-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Arena.
Lack was forced into action at 16:30 into the game, when Luongo left with a lower-body injury. He was knocked to the ice by Jets forward Blake Wheeler earlier in the game, but it is not known if that caused the injury. Luongo stopped all six shots he faced.
The Canucks announced via Twitter during the game that Luongo was being evaluated by the team's medical staff. Vancouver coach John Tortorella told reporters after the game Luongo sustained a lower-body injury. He is day-to-day.
"He had a conversation with Bernie (head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein) a shift or two before [he left the game], one of the timeouts, but I didn't know [he was hurt]," Tortorella said. "It surprised me."
Lack didn't notice anything wrong either.
"I was a little bit surprised for sure," Lack said. "I didn't really hear like anything before that he was hurt or anything, so it kind of caught me by surprise. But for sure, it was really fun going in. My dad and my grandma's in the stands, and also my girlfriend and her parents, so it was a really special feeling for sure."
Lack was credited with his sixth win of the season. He now has a 1.93 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 11 games. Should Luongo not be able to play when the Canucks return from the holiday break to face the Calgary Flames next Sunday, Tortorella said he likes his team's chances with the 25-year-old Lack between the pipes.
"Very confident. I say it every day, he's not afraid of anything," Tortorella said. "He has prepared himself for this situation and he has played very well for us. I'm not sure where Louie's going to go here in the next few days, but if it's Lacker, we are very confident in his play."
Tanev, who has three goals in his past seven games, scored what proved to be the game-winner 10:23 into the third period. With the teams at even strength, Zack Kassian fired a wrist shot off the right wing that missed the net. But Kassian followed his shot, collected the puck behind the net and fed Tanev, who ripped a shot from between the circles past Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec (23 saves).
"I just jumped in the slot. I didn't know if Kass was trying to wrap it or pass it to me," Tanev said. "Either way, it was a good play. It seemed like the seas parted when I got it, so it was awesome. I could walk into it."
Vancouver has won nine of its past 11 games and collected points in 10 of them. The Canucks were coming off an emotional 3-2 shootout victory against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Friday.
"Beginning of the third period, it looked like we were ready to drop," Tortorella said. "But I really respect the way they held on, didn't get hurt, Eddie made a couple of saves and they we score a big goal. I'm very happy with the team and how they've responded here the past couple of weeks."
Brad Richardson gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead via the power play 10:09 into the game. With Jets forward Evander Kane serving a holding penalty, Richardson redirected Dan Hamhuis' wrist shot from the left point past Pavelec. It was Richardson's seventh goal of the season.
Kane tied the game with a power-play goal of his own at 11:22 of the second period. After Daniel Sedin was penalized for holding, Kane took a pass from Wheeler and ripped a shot from the slot past Lack to make it 1-1. It was Kane's 10th goal of the season.
"I thought we played a pretty good road game," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "I thought our second period was good. We gave them a couple power plays in the first. I thought our intensity stepped up in the second. I think we carried a lot of the play. We weren't able to close out and push ahead. That was one of the problems we had."
The Canucks don't return to action until next Sunday. Tortorella believes it's a break that is well deserved.
"We need a break ????????? this was a long week," Tortorella said. "People may not think so, but four [games] in six nights, the travel, the time zones, all about it ????????? I'm really happy how they responded tonight, especially in an ugly third period and coming back and finding a way."
Referee Ian Walsh was also forced to leave the game after colliding with Vancouver's Dale Weise early in the second period. Referee Kyle Rehman handled the remainder of the game alone.