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November 14, 2009

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Luongo impresses in defeat

VANCOUVER Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo did not get the win on Thursday but he definitely grabbed the attention of Detroit and Team Canada head coach Mike Babcock in a 1-3 loss to the Red Wings.

Luongo, making his first start since a broken rib forced him out of the Canucks lineup on October 28, made 28 saves and the effort left a strong impression on Babcock.

Luongo is in the running to be the starting netminder for Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"He made two unbelievable saves," Babcock said. "He's a big man. He's just got to get himself back playing and get healthy and he'll be fine. I thought he did a good job."

In other NHL games, it was: Panthers 1, Bruins 0 (in a shootout); Flyers 5, Senators 1; Thrashers 5, Rangers 3; Lightning 4, Wild 3 (in SO); Devils 4, Penguins 1; Predators 3, Blues 1; Canadiens 4, Coyotes 2; and Stars 3, Sharks 2 (in SO).

In Detroit, Luongo faced just five shots in the opening period, allowing a powerplay goal to Tomas Holmstrom, but faced a much heavier workload in the final two frames.

After Mason Raymond tied the score in the second, Henrik Zetterberg put the Wings back in front midway through the third. Niklas Kronwall made it 3-1 into an empty net after the Canucks took Luongo off the ice in favor of an extra attacker.

Goaltending is expected to be one of Canada's strengths when it drops the Olympic puck in February, with five men identified as contenders for three slots on the team.

The battle for the starting job is expected to be between Luongo and New Jersey Devils' Martin Brodeur, who has more career wins than any other NHL netminder.

Also in the frame are Marc-Andre Fleury, who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup last season, Carolina Hurricanes' Cam Ward and Columbus Blue Jackets' Steve Mason, last season's rookie of the year.


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