Salo helps Canucks edge Red Wings in overtime

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) — The Vancouver Canucks
waited until after regulation to assure themselves that they can
survive without star goaltender Roberto Luongo.

Two night after their captain suffered an injury, defenseman
Sami Salo scored a power-play goal 2:33 into overtime and the
Canucks extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-2
overtime triumph over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk scored with the man advantage to snap a
1-1 tie with 3:35 remaining in the third period but Daniel Sedin
pulled Vancouver even with his 400th career point just 70
seconds later.

“It’s kind of a fluke play,” Sedin said. “Last time they were
in, we probably weren’t playing as good as we wanted to.
Tonight, we’re a confident team right now. Goals seem to go in
for us right now.”

Taylor Pyatt tallied in the second for Vancouver, which improved
to 8-0-2 over its last 10 contests.

“We’re just playing as a team and everyone is real excited to be
beating a team like Detroit,” Pyatt said. “It’s been really
good for us and we’ll continue to play the way we can. Great
job by Curtis Sanford to step up and play the way he did. That
feels good.”

Sanford stepped up and made 32 saves in the wake of Luongo’s
injury. The 29-year-old Luongo, who made one save before the
injury, is 11-5-2 with a 2.18 goals-against average and an
NHL-best five shutouts on the season.

“I felt composed, confident out there. I felt that I was moving
well,” Sanford said. “It shows that we can battle through
adversity. We’re dealing with it head-on right now. We’ve got
some key players out and we’ve had some key injuries in the last
couple weeks so. We’re finding a way to get it done and guys
are really stepping it up and playing hard.”

Luongo went down attempting to make a save on a shot that was
blocked in front. He was helped off the rink by the training
staff, putting no weight on his left leg. But one game after
making 28 saves in a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild, Sanford
entered and turned aside 17 of 18 shots to notch the victory.

Luckily for the Canucks, the 29-year-old Sanford rose to the
occasion again in this one against perhaps the most dangerous
offensive team in the NHL.

“It was a hard-fought game against the Stanley Cup champions,”
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “We played against the
best in the league tonight and, obviously, they outplayed us a
little bit in regulation, but we found a way to stick around.

“They took a penalty in OT and we made them pay for it.”

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Mikael Samuelsson beat Sanford 9:22 into the first for the Red
Wings, whose five-game win streak came to an end.

However, Sanford turned aside all 11 shots he faced in the
following session and held Detroit in check in the third until
Datsyuk struck late in the session to snap the tie, unleashing a
slap shot from the right faceoff circle that went in between the
legs of defenseman Willie Mitchell and into the open net.

Detroit, which was held under three goals for just the third
time this season, fizzled in overtime as it failed to cover
Salo, who beat Chris Osgood with a hard slap shot from inside
the left circle.

“Finding ways to win is what this game is about,” Vigneault
said. “Curtis played a really strong game in net and the fact
that Sami came back obviously helped us out quite a bit. It was
a tight game, hard-fought. We just found a way to get it done
in overtime.”

The extent of Luongo’s injury is unknown, other than a report
that claimed he will be “week-to-week.” Vancouver, which sits
atop the Northwest Division, will have to find a way to keep its
potent defense as the key ingredient to its winning ways. It
has yielded 52 goals this season – third in the Western
Conference – and Sanford has had little to do with it.

The Owen Sound, Ontario native is 33-30-11 over his five-year
career and boasts a goals-against average well north than that
of Luongo.

“I think it just comes with time. I think that every goalie
would love to play all the time but I feel that I’m getting a
little more comfortable every game and through every period,”
Sanford said. “That just comes with being in net.”

Still, Sanford was able to stymie a Detroit team which had won
seven of eight, with its only blemish coming in a 7-6 overtime
loss to the Penguins on November 11. The Red Wings’ last
regulation loss came on October 30 against the San Jose Sharks.

“We had lots of opportunity to score we just didn’t finish
around their net,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “There were
lots of second opportunities there and we didn’t get to enough
of them. Give them credit; they battled hard.

“But I think anytime you’re playing on the road like we are you
know you’ve got to give yourself a chance, play solid
defensively, and don’t give up much and you’ll probably get a
chance with this team we have. We thought we had that here
tonight but in the end we just couldn’t get it done.”