VANCOUVER – Roberto Luongo’s shootout woes continued to haunt him Sunday night.
Luongo allowed goals to both Edmonton shooters as the Oilers scored a come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Having been the subject of trade speculation since losing the starting job to Cory Schneider in last season’s playoffs, Luongo showed the Canucks brass that he can still play an important role after a strong performance for the bulk of the game against the energetic Oilers.
Luongo finished with 30 saves, but his difficulty in the shootout reared its ugly head once again.
The 33-year-old was unable to make a key stop as both Sam Gagner and Ales Hemsky scored to give Edmonton a win in its opener of the lockout-shortened season.
Luongo’s career shootout record now stands at 29 wins and 34 losses.
“I thought we played hard as a team,” Luongo said. “I thought we deserved to win. Unfortunately it came down to a shootout and I wasn’t able to make any saves there.
“Both guys deviated from their usual moves. I followed them both but they really beat me, I’ve got to at least make one of those saves.”
Luongo also said he was caught out of position on Jordan Eberle’s neat backhander with four seconds left in the second period that cut Vancouver’s lead to 2-1.
“I was looking at the clock,” he said. “I wasn’t too sure, I was trying to cover the short side there and wasn’t really square and then he just fired it back in under the bar.
“On both goals I thought I could have done a better job to make a save. They were not necessarily great plays that they made but unfortunately my timing on the rush right now has got to be a bit better than what it’s been.”
Heading into the third period with the advantage cut in half, Luongo–who replaced Schneider early in the second period in Saturday’s 7-3 loss to the Ducks–said the message was to keep pushing rather than sit back and preserve the narrow lead.
But the Oilers pushed for the tie, with Hemsky knotting the score off the rush.
“We just kept doing what we were doing,” he said. “We didn’t want to sit back and go into the third and try to protect the lead. You want to keep going at them and it was a pretty good third period back and forth and unfortunately I let that goal in on the power play.”
Vigneault, who said before the season started that he would use both Schneider and Luongo this weekend, refused to say which goalie would start Wednesday’s home game against the Calgary Flames.
“He made some key saves,” Vigneault said of Luongo’s performance against the Oilers. “That team has got a lot of speed and a lot of skill, they had some quality chances and he made some good saves for us.”
Playing the second game of a back-to-back, Vigneault acknowledged fatigue became a factor in the third period.
“I thought for the most part tonight I liked what we did on the ice,” he said. “We didn’t have much left in the tank halfway through the third period but we tried to battle through, we got a point and I believe we took a step forward tonight.”