Luongo loss is Canucks’ gain
Vancouver Canucks left wing Alex Burrows (14) scores a goal against Florida Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo (1) in the third period at BB&T Center. March 16, 2014; Sunrise, FL, USA. (Photo: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports)
For most of the past eight years, a Roberto Luongo loss meant a Vancouver Canucks loss.
Things are different now.
In the first meeting Sunday between the Florida Panthers goalie and his former team since the surprising trade about two weeks ago, it was the Canucks who got the latest laugh.
But with where they currently sit in the standings and just how close they were to losing out on that second point, there's not too much to chuckle about just yet, if at all this season.
The two points from Vancouver's 4-3 shootout victory at the BB&T Center move them closer to a playoff spot, three back of the Dallas Stars for the final and eighth position. But that was before the Stars' meeting with the Winnipeg Jets — another team in the race alongside the Canucks — later in the evening and Dallas had four games in hand.
It should have been an easier result for the Canucks, who were up by a goal with less than two minutes remaining in regulation against one of the worst teams in the league. Of course, they nearly blew it.
But rookie Nicklas Jensen scored the only goal in the shootout — his second past Luongo on the day — to put the Canucks back on the right track.
Even so, following their loss on Friday to the Washington Capitals, the road remains a steep uphill climb for the Canucks. At least they managed to get by another lowly team in the Panthers.
Alex Burrows picked up a three-point night while the student Eddie Lack, who made 26 saves and stopped all three Florida shooters, got the better of the teacher, Luongo. Meanwhile, the former Canucks netminder stopped 29 of 32 shots.
Jimmy Hayes got Florida on the board first with a power play tally in the opening frame. But the Canucks tied it up and pulled ahead before the period was up. Dan Hamhuis and Jensen scored 53 seconds apart — with both goals assisted by Henrik Sedin and Burrows — to give Vancouver the lead.
Vincent Trocheck evened things up again early in the third, but Burrows finished his night with his third goal of the season a little more than a minute later on the power play.
An Alex Edler penalty with 1:51 remaining put the visitors down a player, and the team with the worst power play success rate in the league scored for the second time with the man advantage to send it into overtime. It was Hayes with the equalizer, his second of the night.
The Canucks close out their road trip Monday when they face a much tougher squad in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts are coming off a 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Game time is 4:30 p.m. on SNET-P.