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Luongo gets hurt, but Lack, Canucks prevail

The SportsXchange

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Backup goaltender Eddie Lack was as stunned as everyone in attendance when Vancouver starter Roberto Luongo unexpectedly left the Canucks' game against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night.

Even so, Lack did not let the shock -- or the pressure -- get to him. He came off the bench at 16:30 of the first period and backstopped the Canucks to a 2-1 victory at Rogers Arena. Lack recorded 15 saves on 16 shots for his second consecutive win.

"I was a little bit surprised for sure," said Lack. "I didn't hear anything before that he was hurt. It caught me by surprise. It was fun going in."

Luongo left with an apparent groin injury during a TV timeout. Canucks coach John Tortorella would only say that Luongo suffered a lower-body injury.

"My dad and my grandmother (visiting from Sweden) were in the stands and also my girlfriend and her parents (who are from Chicago)," said Lack, who is in his first season with the Canucks after three seasons in their farm system. "It was a real special feeling for sure."

The Canucks (22-11-6) posted their ninth win in the past 11 games, while the Jets (16-17-5) lost for the fifth time in the past seven outings. It was Vancouver's sixth consecutive home triumph.

Defenseman Chris Tanev's third-period goal gave the Canucks the win. Tanev broke a 1-1 deadlock at 10:23 as he scored on a shot from the high slot after right winger Zack Kassian set him up from near the net.

"I just jumped in the slot," Tanev said. "I don't know if Kas was trying to wrap it or pass it to me. Either way, it was a good play.

"I seemed like the seas parted when I got it."

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said, "The frustrating part is that was the opportunity that they were able to get a goal from. It was really a play that we played very well. It just went right to their guy."

Center Brad Richardson also scored for the Canucks, while left winger Evander Kane replied for the Jets.

Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec bore the loss while stopping 23 of 25 shots.

"I thought we carried a fair bit of the play, but there's a difference between carrying the play and finishing on your plays," Noel said. "It isn't about scoring chances. This is about goals."

Richardson opened the scoring on a power play midway through the first period with a mid-air deflection of a Dan Hamhuis point shot following a face-off. The goal came seconds after Pavelec robbed Vancouver center Ryan Kesler.

With just under four minutes gone in the second period, referee Ian Walsh suffered a back injury as he was inadvertently upended by fallen Canucks right winger Dale Weise along the end boards. Walsh stayed in the game but exited soon after, leaving Kyle Rehman as the lone referee.

Rehman's assessment of an second-period interference penalty on left winger Daniel Sedin led to Winnipeg's first goal. On the ensuing power play, Kane one-timed a shot from the slot to create a 1-1 tie at 11:22. The goal extended Kane's points streak to four games after he missed the previous six with an undisclosed injury.

"We had some opportunities to score," Kane said, "but I thought that we didn't push the pace that we needed to."

He expressed fatigue with Winnipeg's losses in several close games this season.

"Not having the success now, it's very frustrating," he said. "It's not something you want to be part of, so we're going to have to figure out a way to change that and get out of that rut."

Tortorella said Luongo is listed as day-to-day. The extent of the injury has implications for Canada's Olympic team. Luongo is a prime candidate to be one of three goaltenders chosen to the Canadian squad that will defend its 2010 Olympic gold medal in Sochi after he backstopped it to glory in Vancouver.

Tortorella said he is confident in using Lack as the starter as long as necessary. Lack helped the Canucks get a win in their first game back home after he earned a shootout win over the Blackhawks in Chicago.

"At the beginning of the third period, it looked like we were ready to drop," Tortorella said. "I really respect the way they held on, didn't get hurt. Eddie made a couple of saves, and then we score a big goal. I am very happy with the team and the way they responded in the past couple of weeks."

The Jets played its second game in Vancouver since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg from Atlanta. The Canucks and Jets last met in March 2012, with Vancouver prevailing.

Luongo stopped all six shots he faced before leaving.

"Obviously, everyone is a little worried," Tanev said. "He's been our goalie all year. He's kept us in games all year. It's something you don't want to see."

NOTES: Canucks D Kevin Bieksa played in the 500th game of his NHL career, all with Vancouver. ... Jets RW Evander Kane, a Vancouver native, played a rare NHL game in his hometown. He spent his junior career with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, where his teammate for three seasons was Jets C James Wright. ... Winnipeg C Mark Scheifele extended his points streak to six games, the longest by a rookie this season. ... Canucks D Alex Edler missed his ninth consecutive game due to an undisclosed injury. He will be out "weeks," according to coach John Tortorella.
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