VANCOUVER – The Canucks edged the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 Sunday in one of two games on the NHL schedule. For Vancouver, it was two points but it was also a potentially big loss for the club as number one goalie Roberto Luongo left the game in the first period with a lower body injury.
“He had a conversation with Bernie (head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein) a shift or two before [he left the game], one of the timeouts, but I didn’t know [he was hurt],” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “It surprised me.”
The Jets’ Blake Wheeler collided with Luongo knocking him to the ice. With 16:30 gone in the first period, Eddie Lack came into the game in relief of Luongo who was reported to have a lower body injury.
Lack was surprised but ready for the call.
“I was a little bit surprised for sure,” Lack said. “I didn’t really hear like anything before that he was hurt or anything, so it kind of caught me by surprise. But for sure, it was really fun going in. My dad and my grandma’s in the stands, and also my girlfriend and her parents, so it was a really special feeling for sure.”
Lack got the win in making 15 saves on 16 shots in a tightly contested game with the Jets.
“Very confident. I say it every day, he’s not afraid of anything,” Tortorella said. “He has prepared himself for this situation and he has played very well for us. I’m not sure where Louie’s going to go here in the next few days, but if it’s Lacker, we are very confident in his play.”
In the third, there were a number of giveaways by the Canucks in the defensive zone that were turned into scoring chances by Winnipeg but Lack held his crease.
“Beginning of the third period, it looked like we were ready to drop,” Tortorella said. “But I really respect the way they held on, didn’t get hurt, Eddie made a couple of saves and they we score a big goal. I’m very happy with the team and how they’ve responded here the past couple of weeks.”
The Jets played well in the match and were only a bounce away from taking the two points.
“I thought we played a pretty good road game,” Jets coach Claude Noel said. “I thought our second period was good. We gave them a couple power plays in the first. I thought our intensity stepped up in the second. I think we carried a lot of the play. We weren’t able to close out and push ahead. That was one of the problems we had.”
Only the Canadiens and Canucks are off Monday as the rest of the NHL is in action. Vancouver does not get back to action until next Sunday.
“We need a break … this was a long week,” Tortorella said. “People may not think so, but four [games] in six nights, the travel, the time zones, all about it … I’m really happy how they responded tonight, especially in an ugly third period and coming back and finding a way.”