VANCOUVER – A bad situation is getting worse for the Vancouver Canucks.
The team, which is suffering through a three-game losing streak, has lost centre Brendan Morrison for the rest of the NHL season and playoffs with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Morrison, who suffered the injury in Vancouver’s 6-3 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night in Denver, is expected to undergo reconstructive knee surgery.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo also left the club Thursday morning to be with his pregnant wife in Florida. Team officials said Luongo was expected to rejoin the team in time for Friday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center.
The Canucks hold the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with a 38-29-10 record. They trail Colorado by two points but are just two points ahead of ninth-place Nashville and three points ahead of Edmonton.
Morrison was injured early in the second period against the Avalanche after an innocent-looking collision with defenceman Ruslan Salei.
It has been a rough season for the 32-year-old from Pitt Meadows, B.C. He returned to the Vancouver lineup nine games ago after missing 38 games following surgery to repair damaged tendons in his wrist.
Morrison is in the final season of a contract that pays him US$3.2 million a year. He becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. In 39 games this season, he has nine goals and 16 assists for 25 points.
Morrison needed surgery to repair a sports hernia last summer and had an operation to fix a hip-flexor injury in 2006.
Luongo was pulled in the second period against the Avs after allowing five goals on 23 shots. The Canucks have been aware that Luongo could leave the team to join his wife for the birth of their first child.
The Canucks return home Saturday.
Vancouver ends the regular season with games Sunday against the Calgary Flames, Tuesday against Colorado, Thursday against Edmonton and next Saturday against Calgary.