Defenceman Chris Tanev scored the winning goal in the third period as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 Sunday night in an NHL game where goaltender Roberto Luongo left early with an injury.
Luongo left the game with 3:30 remaining in the first period. He headed toward the Canucks’ dressing room where he was evaluated by team medical staff and didn’t return, not even to sit on the bench. Earlier in the period Luongo had his leg clipped by big Winnipeg defenceman Dustin Byfuglien. He also was knocked flat on the ice during a goal-mouth collision with the Jets’ Blake Wheeler.
The Olympic gold medallist, who had made six saves, was replaced by Eddie Lack.
Tanev gave Vancouver the lead at 10:23 of final period. He took a pass in the high slot from Zack Kassian and ripped a shot past Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Brad Richardson, on the power play, also scored for Vancouver.
Evander Kane scored on the power play for Winnipeg.
Vancouver opened the scoring at 10:09 of the first period with just one second remaining in a Kane holding penalty. With Kane standing up in the penalty box, defenceman Dan Hamhuis fired a shot that Richardson deflected. The puck bounced in front of Pavelec and into the net for Richardson’s seventh goal of the season.
The Jets tied the game at 9:38 of the second period after Daniel Sedin was called for holding. Wheeler set up the goal, sending a pretty pass to Kane, who beat Lack on the glove side. Jets rookie Mark Scheifele also earned an assist for his eighth point (three goals, five assists) in the last five games.
The goal came just a few minutes after Lack made a big stop off a point-blank shot from Byfuglien. The crowd, which included Lack’s father and grandmother, chatted “Eddie, Eddie.”
Pavelec kept the Jets in the game with several big saves. He twice robbed Ryan Kesler.
The game took another twist in the second period when referee Ian Walsh was injured in a collision with Vancouver’s Dale Weise. Walsh tried to continue for a few minutes but finally left the ice. The game continued with Kyle Rehman acting as the lone referee.
The Canucks came into the game riding the emotion of a 3-2 shootout victory over the Blackhawks Friday night in Chicago. Vancouver had trailed 2-0 in that game. The Jets defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 Friday in Winnipeg.
Vancouver improved their record to 22-11-6 for 50 points, leaving them tied with the San Jose Sharks for fifth-place in the Western Conference. The Jets are 11th in the West with a 16-17-5 record for 37 points.
The Canucks have won nine of their last 11 games and collected points in 10 of those matches.
The game was the Jets’ second visit to Vancouver since returning to the NHL in the 2011-12 season. Winnipeg lost the first match 3-2 on March 8, 2012.
Notes: David Booth’s assist on Tanev’s goal was his 100th career assist. ...Defenceman Kevin Bieksa played his 500th career game. ...The Canucks last home loss was a 3-2 overtime defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 26. ...Vancouver’s Tom Sestito and Winnipeg’s Anthony Peluso engaged in a first-period fight. ...Vancouver’s next game is Dec. 29 in Calgary.
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