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Luongo injured as Sedin twins, Pavol Demitra lift Canucks to 3-1 win over Penguins

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

PITTSBURGH - An injury to Roberto Luongo put a chill into the Vancouver Canucks' hot streak.

The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist hurt his groin less than five minutes into Vancouver's game against Pittsburgh on Saturday, but Pavol Demitra scored twice and Daniel and Henrik Sedin had three points each in the Canucks' 3-1 win over the Penguins.

Vancouver won its third straight, all on the road, and improved to 7-0-2 in its past nine.

Luongo left the game after collapsing to the ice following what appeared to be a routine save on a shot from the point by Philippe Boucher, Pittsburgh's first of the game. The goalie was helped off the ice without putting weight on his left leg.

"We're not exactly sure the severity of it," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, adding that Luongo would be evaluated Sunday after making the trip with the team back to Vancouver on Saturday night.

Curtis Sanford took Luongo's place in goal, stopping 17 of the 18 shots he faced to win for the second time in three days after going 11 months between victories.

"You hate to see your teammate down on the ice like that, he's the biggest part of our team," Sanford said. "But we're going to have to move past that and we're going to have to play some games without him in there."

Luongo had started the previous 14 games before being given a night off Thursday, when Sanford won for the first time since Dec. 12, 2007.

"I have a lot of confidence in Curtis," Vigneault said. "They played real hard for him in Minnesota (during a 3-2 win Thursday) and they did the same thing tonight."

Vancouver recalled goalie Cory Schneider from Manitoba of the American Hockey League shortly after the game. Schneider, the Canucks' first-round pick in the 2004 draft, leads the AHL with a 10-1 record and 1.37 goals-against average.

The Canucks were completing the end of a gruelling but successful road trip. They played in New York on Monday and Wednesday, then went to Minnesota on Thursday before returning east to play Pittsburgh.

Vancouver lost in a shootout on Long Island on Monday to begin the swing but have won all three games since.

"It was our fourth game in five and a half nights," Vigneault said. "We have gone across North America and back, and we played a good, solid road game."

Daniel Sedin also scored for the Canucks, and his brother Henrik assisted on all three goals. The line of the Sedins and Demitra has been one of the NHL's hottest, combining for 23 points during their past five games.

"It's a great feeling playing with guys like that," Demitra said. "As a team, we didn't really give (the Penguins) anything, not even on their power play. Our (penalty) killers were playing great."

Mike Zigomanis scored for the Penguins, and Dany Sabourin stopped 16 of the 18 shots he faced.

"It's a disappointing game for us," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "We didn't have the right attitude to play that game. They worked harder than us and deserved to win."

Demitra scored his sixth with 1:55 to play in the opening period when his initial shot from left of Sabourin was flipped into the air and into the opposite side of the crease. Demitra went behind the net to that side and slammed the puck home.

The Sedin twins each assisted on that goal, and then combined to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead 6:50 into the second. Henrik won a faceoff in the right circle of the Penguins' zone, and Daniel picked up the puck and swooped around the outside of the circle and to the net, making a move to beat Sabourin on the far side for his team-high ninth of the season.

The Penguins had only 11 shots through two periods and had failed on four power-play opportunities until Zigomanis scored his second of the season 22 seconds into the third, converting a pass from Tyler Kennedy while in the left faceoff circle.

That was the first goal Sanford had allowed in 100 minutes 22 seconds against the Penguins, who were 0-for-4 on the power play. Pittsburgh failed to get a point from superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for second time in three games, but only the third time this season.

"I think when you get chances, you have to put them in," Crosby said. "When a team's playing tight defensively like that, when you get quality chances you have to put them in. If not, they come back to hurt you."

Demitra added an empty-net goal at 19:48 of the third period, his seventh of the season and fifth in four games. Both Sedin twins were given assists on the play.

Notes: Twenty-five seconds into the game, three players on each team were penalized a total of 30 minutes after the Penguins' Matt Cooke threw a hip check on Alexander Edler that started a mini-brawl that included two fights and two ejections - Jannik Hansen and Cooke, a former long-time Canuck. ... Pittsburgh went a stretch of more than 12 minutes spanning the first intermission when it did not record a shot.



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