Luongo denies Demitra to clinch semi-final and gets a chance for payback
Last night’s semi-final was looking like it would be a relatively easy win for Canada – the Slovaks only threw nine shots at goaltender Roberto Luongo through two periods as Canada grabbed a 3-0 lead. But Luongo had to come up with a remarkable desperation glove save on Canucks teammate Pavol Demitra in the final seconds to preserve Canada’s 3-2 semi-final win and move his team into the Olympic final on Sunday.
The two embraced in the hand shake line, obviously recounting the play that will get talked about for some time in the Canucks locker room. “Oh, man! I can’t believe he made that save,” Demitra said, minutes after the finish. “I was sure it was going to go in.”
Asked what went on between them Luongo added, “He said a couple of words that I can’t repeat. I can tease him about it once it’s all said and done.”
Tomorrow, Luongo will face Ryan Miller and the Americans getting an opportunity for payback in a couple of ways.
It may not have been Luongo in net when Team USA beat Canada in the preliminary round but you can bet he and his teammates want to avenge that loss.They’d love to win what coach Mike Babcock was calling “the rubber match” yesterday. “They won the World Juniors, we won the women’s gold and here’s the rubber right here. They have a young team over there and they’ve done a good job and their goaltender is outstanding. I was asked a long time before this tournament, who are you nervous about? I always say the best goalie always makes you nervous. And I think that kid has been really good for them.”
But for Luongo personally, it is also a special opportunity. Rightly or wrongly he is getting the tag of a goalie who has yet to win the big game. Tomorrow gives him that the chance to do just that, while extracting a bit of personal revenge. He’ll face down American Patrick Kane who had his number scoring on three of four shots as Kane’s Chicago Blackhawks eliminated Luongo’s Canucks in game six of the Western Conference Semi-Final last spring.
But now isn’t the time to dwell on the past. Luongo was none too pleased and left quickly when asked if Kane had anything on him – “If he’s got a book (on me), good for him.”
Kane, on the other hand, was happy to talk about the last time the two faced each other in a big game – perhaps even offering a nice quote for the Canadian locker room as motivation, “I’ve had my luck against him, personally. So he’s a goalie I wouldn’t mind facing.”
Less than 24 hours from now we’ll see who gets the last laugh.
Photo thanks to Tawcan