VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Vancouver Canucks aren't looking forward to playing without star goaltender Roberto Luongo, but Curtis Sanford's solid performance Monday helped ease the pain a little bit.
Sanford made 32 saves and Sami Salo scored in overtime as the badly outshot Canucks came back to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in overtime before a sellout crowd of 18,630 at General Motors Place.
"It shows that we can battle through adversity because we're dealing with it head-on right now," said Sanford.
The journeyman backup shone in his first game as interim starter while Luongo, the Canucks captain and franchise player, is sidelined week-to-week with a groin injury suffered Saturday in Pittsburgh.
The Canucks (14-6-2) posted their eighth win in their last 11 games and remained unbeaten on home ice since losing to the Wings in their last visit Nov. 2.
Sanford, who played most of the Pittsburgh game after Luongo left and also started against Minnesota on Thursday, posted his third straight win.
Sanford had not appeared in three consecutive games since Luongo was injured this time last year. But the backup came through as the defending Stanley Cup champions outshot the Canucks 34-24 and limited the hosts to just nine shots in the first 40 minutes.
The Canucks outshot Detroit 8-0 in overtime to make the final count much closer than it could have been.
"We're playing well right now and we're rallying around each other," said Sanford, a 29-year-old native of Owen Sound, Ont. "There's adversity right now and we're finding a way to deal with it.
"We have each other's back out there and we're going to find a way to get through all this."
The Canucks finally rallied offensively late in the game after Sanford got them through a difficult second period in which they were outshot 11-3 but kept the score tied 1-1.
Salo's power-play goal at 2:33 of overtime came after Johan Franzen was penalized for interference.
"We went into the game like it was a measurement stick for us," Salo said. "(The Wings are) the best team in the league right now and they played really well. Even though they have injuries we saw how well they played, very tight in the neutral zone and that caught us a little bit by surprise."
Salo played his first game since missing two with what Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault described as the flu. Vigneault also said Salo had a minor leg injury.
"I basically slept the last 96 hours before today so it's a nice feeling to get the win," Salo said.
Taylor Pyatt and Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks. Mikael Samuelsson and Pavel Datsyuk replied for the Red Wings, who saw their saw their winning streak end at five games.
"We got enough (shots)," said Detroit sniper Henrik Zetteberg. "Maybe we should have had a few more behind (Sanford). I thought we did a pretty good job."
Sanford hurt his collarbone with 3:57 left in the third period as he stopped a Franzen deflection, but stayed in the game after a trainer briefly attended to him.
"I got hit really good in the collarbone and it really stung," said Sanford. "Thank God it wasn't a full long shot. It was just deflected and it just got me where there wasn't any pad."
Moments later, Datsyuk gave Detroit a 2-1 lead as he rang a wrist shot in off the post on a power play at 16:25. But Sedin tied the game 2-2 70 seconds later as he deflected Salo's point shot in mid-air past Osgood.
"It's nice for Curtis (Sanford) and hes going to be in the net for a while and it's a good start for him," said Sedin. "We know he's a good goalie so he can keep this going."
The goal gave Sedin 400 points for his career. He also assisted on Salo's winner.
"We let one slip away," said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. "Full marks to them. We gave up 24 shots on the road and very few opportunities and they were able to find a way to win."
NOTES: Daniel Sedin barely beat his twin brother Henrik to the 400-point mark. Henrik has 399 career points . . . Vancouver winger Steve Bernier was injured as he tried to hit, but missed defenceman Brad Stuart behind the Detroit net moments before Samuelsson's goal. The burly Canuck winger suffered a shoulder injury and did not return . . . Detroit's Derek Meech, usually a defenceman, played on the wing as forwards Thomas Holmstrom (back) and Daniel Cleary (scratched eye) remained out with injuries . . . Monday marked the first time goaltender Cory Schneider, 22, Vancouver's first-round-draft choice in 2004, dressed for a Canucks regular season game as he backed up Sanford. Schneider was called up from Manitoba of the AHL over the weekend following Luongo's injury.