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Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province
Published: Sunday, January 14, 2007
Roberto shows Centre of Universe what real goaltending is all about


TORONTO - On hockey's biggest stage, Roberto Luongo showed Saturday just what great goaltending can do.

Luongo was at his gamestealing best in Canada's socalled Centre of the Universe, keeping the Vancouver Canucks in the contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs virtually singlehandily for the first 20 minutes.

With confidence and poise, Luongo did his job and seemed to suck the life out of a frustrated Leafs team. And after a while the rest of the Canucks did theirs to beat the Leafs 61 in a game in which they were mostly outplayed.

"The first period was all about Luongo," head coach Alain Vigneault said. "Luongo kept us in. And then we found a way to win this game."

Luongo saved 13 of 14 shots in the first. The only one that beat him was a floater that trickled in off his stick when Bates Battaglia fanned on a shot at the goal mouth.

If not for Luongo, the Canucks could have been down by three or four goals.

"Fortunately, I was able to make a couple big saves early," Luongo said. "You could tell they had the momentum and I just tried to stop every puck possible and I was able to make some really good saves.

"It helped that I made a couple big saves right off the bat and right away that puts me in the game. When you reach that certain comfort zone, pucks tend to hit you."

The Canucks managed a feeble three shots in their sleepy first but the second one went in when Daniel Sedin found Mattias Ohlund at the top of the slot. Ohlund wired in his ninth goal of the season.

The Canucks took the lead just 39 seconds into the second when Daniel scored on the power play off a feed from his brother Henrik.

It was all Luongo needed.

The Leafs threw everything they had at him _ breakaways, backhands, snap shots _ but Luongo was able to see his way through heavy traffic to make big save after big save.

"It was a tie going out of the first period and that was huge," Luongo said. "Obviously, we had to regroup, that was the bottom line."

The Sedin twins had a big game following the news that they were both snubbed from the Western Conference allstar team.

Daniel had a goal and three assists while his brother Henrik had three assists.

Henrik now has 45 points this season and Daniel has 44. They each have more points than eight of the Western Conference forwards chosen to go to Dallas for the Jan. 24 game.

"The last few years it seems people outside of our dressing room don't realize how good they've been," Mattias Ohlund said. "They've been great for us all year."

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