Vancouver - Dec. 9, 2011 - Roberto Luongo must have practiced his shootout technique as he stopped all three Montreal shots in the shootout to earn the win and also snap the Canucks four year winless streak in Montreal. In a game that was earmarked as another poor performance by Luongo after going down by three goals, he and the team again came out in the third period and dominated their opponent to claw out a win.
At one point it was 3-0 for the Canadiens who looked to be on an easy track to getting their game sorted out by winning handily at home, the Canucks and their never say die attitude had other plans as they ran the gamut and scored a short handed goal, an even strength goal, a power play goal, and then the shootout goal to rally back from the three goal deficit to get the home team fans lathered up enough to start booing the Canadiens on home ice! And people think the Canucks fans are hard on their team?
I can only hang one goal on Luongo out of the three that beat him. The first goal at 4:38 of the first period blew past him as he was being knocked to the ice Tomas Plekanic. It’s pretty hard to stop a puck when you have a player pushing you away from the puck! After the infamous Lucic/Miller incident, the referees have been clamping down on the goalie interference crap by calling anything closely resembling contact to the goalie. Even breaking wind in the direction of a goalie can get a play called dead and the offending player will sit for two! I’ve seen goals disallowed because a players skate was in the blue paint for God’s sake, so how on earth the penguins missed Luongo getting shoved which resulted in a goal is beyond me? The second goal on him with a minute to go in the first period would have been a tough one for anybody to stop as every Canadien except Youppi seemed to be in front of Roberto. Now the third goal early in the second period was vintage Luongo at his worst, as he let in a shot from the right face off dot right through the 5-hole! Pitiful, and he knew it too! The Canadiens were in control with a 3-0 lead. Not the score you want to see while on hostile ice and facing a goaltender on the other end that has been playing brilliantly. It didn’t look good for the Canucks!
But just like every fire needs a spark to get going, Mason Raymond scored a short handed goal midway through the second period to light the embers of what was going to be an exciting comeback for the visitors. Not only was Mason’s goal the beginning of the end for the Canadiens tonight, it was also his first goal of the season, which proved it couldn’t have come at a better time! Cody Hodgson brought the Canucks within a goal at 4:54 of the third period by wristing a shot past Carey Price to score his sixth of the year. With less than 5 minutes remaining in the game, and with a man advantage Sami Salo blasted his patented slap shot over Price’s glove hand to tie the game. The extra 5 minute OT frame wouldn’t solve anything, and I swear you could hear a collective groan throughout Canuck Nation as the game would be decided by a shootout, which as we all know is NOT Luongo’s forte’!
But maybe, just maybe Luongo has been practicing his shootout technique on the sly because he looked strong on the one on one challenges and stopped all 3 shooters he faced. Who saw that coming, especially after such a rocky start to the game? Cody Hodgson scored the one and only goal in the shootout to get the win for the Canucks.
Price was strong in net, and was the difference in in the first 40 minutes of the game. He was definitely in line and deserving of the win if the game didn’t have the extra 25 minutes tacked on! Total shots were 31 to 23 for the Canucks, and if it weren’t for Price making some fantastic stops early on, this game might not have needed a shootout to be decided. But Mason Raymond started it for the Canucks, and Cody Hodgson ended it. And somewhere in between Luongo found his groove after giving up the easy goal in the second period to keep it together so the team could find a way to win this one.
With a win in Montreal, its a good way to start this Eastern road trip for the Canucks as they now travel to Ottawa for a Saturday night game. That game should be good as the Canucks are proving to be a strong third period team, whereas the Senators are showing themselves to be a team that goes home early in the final frame! Fun times in Ottawa await!!