TORONTO - This was a tale of two Montreal goaltenders, playing for different Canadian cities on a national TV stage.
One heard the ‘Louing’, while the other was losing, 5-3. For the Maple Leafs’ Jean-Sebastien Giguere, it wasn’t a happy ending.
The veteran misplayed a blueline shot from Vancouver Canucks’ Mason Raymond that beat him five-hole. With the Leafs about six minutes away from a badly needed point, in Giguere’s first start since calling out his team, the timing of the winner couldn’t have been worse.
TV cameras caught general manager Brian Burke looking like he’d faint. But kudos to Giguere for staying at the gate and saying a quick word of apology or encouragement to each Leaf as they slowly marched to the dressing room
“I was happy with my game up to that point,” Giguere said. “This is what I’m going to take away from the game, not the five seconds that didn’t go the way I wanted. The guy shot it and it went in. It’s not rocket science. These things happen.
“If we compete like this through most nights, we’ll come out winning. We were hungry for the puck and winning one-on-one battles, we were getting to the net and creating traffic in front of Roberto, using our speed. It was a disappointing way to lose. but you have to look at the big picture.
“We’re deep in a hole and sometimes it seems the bounces aren’t going to go your way. The main thing is about going forward, keep pushing, keep working.”
For Luongo, the Canadian Olympic hero, the 2-0 Leaf lead was the second straight rough start he has had at the Air Canada Centre. Last year, he was beaten three times in the first period and ex-Leaf Andrew Raycroft had to come off the bench and rescue the Canucks. This time, Luongo stopped 22 of 23 shots in the second and third periods.
“(Last year) crossed my mind,” Luongo said. “I thought to myself that I had to bear down.”
After Fredrik Sjostrom and Phil Kessel scored, the first time in 14 games the Leafs had two in the first period, Toronto fans joined the Lou chants, only to be put in their place as Luongo’s big saves piled up.
“We have fans all over the place,” Luongo said. “Not just in Eastern Canada, but in the United States, too. We’re well regarded.”
They are indeed the strongest of the six Canadian NHL franchises at present, now 10-4-2, with just one regulation loss since Oct. 19. Raymond was grateful to play a role, just as shocked as Giguere when the red light went on.
“There were a few times earlier in the game that I should have taken shots,” Raymond said. “That one went in. I’ll take it anyway I can.”
The Canucks play in Buffalo on Monday where the Leafs hope another Vancouver win will help keep the Sabres from getting too far ahead. The Vancouver players will take in the Lions-Bills football game.