BOSTON — There are some places we just don’t like to go. For some of us, it’s the dentist. Others, it’s the in-laws. For Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo, it’s TD Garden.
Causeway Street has become something of a personal Elm Street for Luongo over the last few years with the Garden becoming a nightmare factory for the goaltender. That continued Tuesday night when Luongo and the Canucks dropped a 3-1 decision to the Bruins.
This latest run-in with the Black and Gold was admittedly tame compared to his recent trips to the Hub. Luongo came in having allowed 15 goals in his last three starts in Boston — all three of those starts coming in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final — and only allowed three of the 32 shots he faced get behind him this time around.
Progress, as they say. Yet, still not nearly good enough.
“I think this one’s 100 percent on me,” Luongo said after the game. “I wasn’t feeling too good tonight. I wasn’t tracking well, my reads were off. We got in late [Monday night] so I didn’t skate this morning and I just didn’t feel like myself out there. It’s disappointing performance for me out there and I thought the guys deserved better.”
It could have been worse for Luongo, though. Bruins forward Brad Marchand looked to have scored in the second period when he beat a sprawling Luongo. The Vancouver goalie quickly jumped up, however, and gave a spirited protest saying that he was interfered with. Upon further review, that was deemed the case, as the referee said that Torey Krug had interfered with the goalie.
Marchand almost scored again later in the frame when he grabbed a loose puck in front of the net and whirled around with a backhander attempt that hit the post.
That’s where Luongo’s luck ran out, though. He allowed a first-period goal to Milan Lucic and then was victimized by a Jarome Iginla power-play goal in the second period. The real back-breaker, however, came late in the second period. Daniel Paille, not known for his ability to finish on a breakaway, came off the bench and took a long stretch pass from defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Paille walked in all alone, put a move on Luongo and then slid a backhander through the goaltender’s legs.
“He was coming in, I thought he was going to shoot it, but once he brought it to the backhand and I started opening up, he went five-hole,” Luongo said. It was a good play by him, but at the same time, I want to make that save.”
That goal, as well as the other two Boston tallies, delighted the sellout crowd in attendance. Predictably, each Luongo mishap was serenaded with a singing “Luonnnn-go” chant, including Luongo’s all-too-familiar skate to the bench late in the third period as he was pulled for the extra attacker.
Once again, Luongo’s desire to make saves in Boston was not met by his ability to make those stops. Perhaps had he been able to stop the Paille breakaway — much like Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did on a Daniel Sedin shorthanded bid earlier in the period — that might have been enough to turn things around. However, Luongo couldn’t make the save when his team really needed it, and his Boston bugaboo continues.