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Luongo’s Pitiful Start Dooms the Canucks. Lose to Sabres 5-3
Jon Foxall

Luongo’s Pitiful Start Dooms the Canucks. Lose to Sabres 5-3
A bad start from netminder Roberto Luongo set the tone for last night's game and the Vancouver Canucks could never recover, falling 5-3 to the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Forward Zack Kassian collected his first two points as a Canuck, against his former club.

Vancouver - March 4, 2012 - Luongo coughs up a very weak opening goal 55 seconds into the game, and 4 minutes later he was sitting on the bench pathetically responsible for the 3 goal deficit he put his team in. Seriously? 3 goals on 7 shots is the best Luongo could come up with to defend the Canucks 7-0-2 home record the previous 9 games? Really?

Luongo wasn’t ready for tonight’s game and he showed it during the pre-game warmup as he took a shot high in the mask area and was was visibly PO’d as he skated away and slammed his stick on the end boards. But that was well before the game started, and for him to not be able to shake it off and recompose himself before the puck drop is inexcusable! When Sabres Ville Leino’s first shot of the game beat Luongo 5-hole from the right hand face off circle with no obstructions to distract him, the red flag should have went up that Luongo wasn’t prepared to play tonight.

With the Canucks reeling 5:10 into the game thanks to Luongo’s “Cloutier” impersonations, they were down 3 goals and the remainder of the game was going to be a direct reflection as to what type of team the Canucks were. They were either going to roll over, play dead and mail in a performance, or they were going to rally in front of Schneider and mount a comeback push.

With Ryan Miller nursing a 2 game shutout streak, a comeback wasn’t going to be easy. But after the Canucks settled down, and Schneider showed that his head and body were into the game by making a few key stops, the Canucks started to turn up the pressure midway through the period. By the time the first period came to an end, the Canucks had outshot the Sabres 12-11 but still trailed by 3 goals thanks to Ryan Miller’s play between the pipes.

The Canucks started the second period on the power play, and kept the pressure up generating scoring chances. The Canucks had 3 power play opportunities early in the period, and controlled the majority of the play. But it wasn’t until Alexandre Burrows expertly hammed up an Alexander Sulzer high stick to draw a penalty that the Canucks were finally able to beat Miller. Sulzer’s penalty had just ended and the Canucks were pressuring in the Sabres zone, when Burrows threw the puck from behind the net to David Booth, who shoveled the puck past Miller from the left face off dot to get the Canucks on the scoreboard.

The goal was Booth’s 12th of the season, but it also turned out to be newcomer Zack Kassian’s invitation to the Canucks party. Kassian again had a strong game as he continued to make his presence known showing his speed, size, skill and tenacity by spending shift time on the first and second lines, as he continues to look for suitable linemates. Early in the third period he assisted on David Booth’s second goal of the game after his initial shot was stopped by Miller, allowing Booth to backhand the rebounded puck up and over the sprawling Miller to bring the Canucks within 2 goals again. Less than 4 minutes later, Kassian scored his first goal as a Canuck by wristing the puck past a screened Miller to pull the Canucks within a goal, 4-3. With nearly 3 minutes to go in the game, things were looking good for a Canucks comeback, until a clearing error in the Canucks zone allowed Tyler Ennis to score an empty netter with 1 minute left in the game.

The Canucks played a strong 55 minute game, and if it wasn’t for both goaltenders, Miller and Luongo, they could have possibly extended their home winning streak to 10. But Luongo’s 5 minute 3 goal performance sealed their fate early, even after Schneider came in to plug the gaping hole Roberto left in the dam! Bottom line is, Kassian played great, as well as the rest of the team, but Luongo needed to be better, much better.

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