Lack Steps Up After Luongo Injured in 2-1 Win Over Jets

Rich Lam

It wasn't in the game plan, but Eddie Lack came in off the bench after Roberto Luongo was forced out of the game late in the first period with a lower body injury, helping Vancouver to a 2-1 win heading into the Christmas break.

Eddie Lack took his spot on the Vancouver bench on Sunday night with no intention of reaching for his helmet. But when Roberto Luongo went down in the first period after getting bumped in the crease, Lack stepped up to the task, turning in a 15 save performance in a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.

Zack Kassian had a great scoring chance early, forcing a turnover in the Jets’ zone. The only thing that prevented the puck from going in was Stuart, who swiped it away at the last possible moment.

On Vancouver’s second power play of the period, Ryan Kesler controlled a pass in front of the net and at point blank range, but couldn’t come up with the goal.

Moments later, with just one second left on the advantage, Dan Hamhuis wristed a shot on net that was tipped in by Brad Richardson. The play was reviewed for high sticking, but the goal stood, giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 10:09.

In the final few minutes of the first period, starting goalie Roberto Luongo left early for the dressing room. Luongo took a hit in the crease earlier in the period and appeared to be trying to stretch out his leg, so in hockey terms, we’ll chalk this one up as a lower body injury. There was some speculation to it being a pulled groin. I’ve had one of those before, and they are the definition of a nagging injury, one that gets worse the more you move around on it. John Tortorella confirmed after the game that Luongo is day-to-day with a lower body injury, but expressed confidence in Lack if he needs to step into the starters role.

You smell that? No, it’s not the Christmas tree in your living room. It’s the delicious smell of a new goalie controversy. No…I’m only kidding, I just like to stir the pot every now and then.

Between Richardson’s goal, and the opportunities for Kassian and Kesler, the Canucks easily could have had a 3-0 lead in the opening period. But let’s not get greedy now; it is the holidays after all.

The Canucks would get their third power play of the night five minutes into the middle period, and for the second time on the power play, Kesler nearly came up with a goal at point blank range, but couldn’t get the placement right.

The Jets got their first crack at the power play midway through the second period when Daniel Sedin was sent off for holding. Early in the advantage, Lack came up with some big saves, but the Jets were able to set up a game-tying goal from Evander Kane. While Winnipeg’s power play is near the bottom of the league (25th), the Jets have scored eight power play goals in their last seven games.

After being outplayed for much of the beginning of the third period, the Canucks manged to take the lead at 10:23. Kassian found Chris Tanev from behind the net for the go-ahead goal. Tanev, who had two career goals entering this season, has already doubled that total before we’ve even hit 2014. The goal was Tanev’s third in the last seven games.

The goal would prove to be all Lack would need as the Canucks hung on for the 2-1 win. I think we can all agree here the last thing this team needed heading into the break would’ve been another overtime or shootout. Vancouver wasn’t always in control, and certainly seemed to taper off as the game went on. Tanev’s goal was a jolt of electricity into both the team and the arena.

But the real heroes of the night go to Lack’s dad and grandmother, both of whom were in attendance at Rogers Arena tonight. Sorry Winnipeg, but the backup goalie coming into the game after an injury to Luongo while his family is in the building? By rule of “you couldn’t script this if you tried,” the Jets really never stood a chance as soon as Lack entered the game.

Now, the team will go their separate ways to spend time with family for the holidays before reuniting next Sunday in Calgary to take on the Flames. The game will be part of Vancouver’s fourth set of back-to-back games in December as they’ll return to Rogers Arena next Monday to close out 2013 against the Flyers.

On behalf of all your lovable bloggers over here at Canucks Misconduct, Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. See you in a week.

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