Luongo confident he can rebound after nosedive
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
BOSTON (AP) — Roberto Luongo is not panicking after watching all those pucks go whizzing by him.
It’s just one loss, Vancouver’s goalie said, no matter how lopsided.
He has a day to erase those images from his mind, forget the 8-1 rout by the Boston Bruins on Monday night and prepare to play much better for the Canucks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday night.
“Obviously, we’re all disappointed with the result, but a loss is a loss whether we lose in overtime or 8-1,” Luongo said. “It’s a loss. We move on and get ready for the next game.”
The Canucks are still in decent shape with a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Win the next game and they can clinch their first NHL championship on Friday night at home.
“Luckily, we are not playing with an aggregate score,” Vancouver defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “Next game is huge for us and if we take care of that, we are in a great position.”
Luongo had a career-best 2.11 goals-against average in the regular season and 2.16 in the playoffs before Game 3.
But he was in some uncomfortable positions Monday night — flat on his back, reaching to his side and sprawling in his crease to try and stop Bruins shots. He stopped just 30 of their 38.
After a scoreless first period, he allowed four goals in the second and four more in the last 8 1/2 minutes of Boston’s first home game of the series.
“I’ve been through it a few times in my career,” Luongo said with a chuckle. “So I know what I need to do, and I’ll be ready for Game 4.”
In the opening round against Chicago, he won the first three games before his performance nose-dived. He was pulled from the next two games and didn’t even start Game 6, although he came in after Cory Schneider experienced cramps. The Blackhawks won them all.
But in Game 7, Luongo allowed only one of Chicago’s 32 shots to get by him and Vancouver won on Alex Burrows’ overtime goal.
“If you look at his stats, I think after a game like this, which has happened before, he’s usually extremely good,” Canucks forward Henrik Sedin said. “Nothing falls on his shoulders. We didn’t play good enough as a team and he’s a guy back there that’s going to have bad stats tonight, but the team in front of him wasn’t good enough.”
Not even close.
Andrew Ference scored the first goal after Alexander Edler broke his stick trying to clear the puck. Brad Marchand got the third on an exceptional solo charge in which he received his own ricochet off the sideboards and got by Edler and Ryan Kesler.
Jannik Hansen spoiled Tim Thomas’ shutout bid, making it 5-1 with 6:07 remaining. Then the frustrated Canucks gave up three goals in less than two minutes.
The eight goals were the most against Luongo, a first-round draft pick in his 11th NHL season, in his 55 playoff games. And in his 727 appearances in both the regular season and playoffs, he’s allowed nine goals once and eight only one other time.
But he wanted to stay in the game to the end.
“I thought at 4-0, going at the beginning of the third with a power play, we might be able to do something. That’s why I kept him in,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “At 5-1, I asked him what he wanted to do. He said, ’Don’t even think about taking me out.”’
Vigneault hopes his goalie can regain the form he displayed in the first two games when he gave up just two goals.
Luongo and Thomas are two of the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goalie in the regular season. In the first two games of the finals, Thomas had many more difficult shots to stop, and several of the four goals he gave up resulted from mistakes by his teammates.
He was able to rebound from those losses and make 40 saves on Monday night.
Thomas “has been unbelievable,” said Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, the NHL scoring champion this season.
The Bruins have never lost faith in Thomas, even after he wandered from his net to cut down the angle but was beaten by Burrows just 11 seconds into overtime of the Canucks’ 3-2 win in Game 2.
Vancouver, similarly, still has confidence in Luongo.
“Just like Chicago, we had a bad loss and were able to bounce back,” defenseman Sami Salo said. “Not just the goalie. The whole team needs to bounce back. The guys in front of him didn’t play as hard as they should have.”
But the Canucks lead the series and still have home-ice advantage.
“You don’t want to lose 8-1,” Bieksa said. “It’s embarrassing at this time of year, but a loss is a loss. It doesn’t feel good.”