Sunday, April 24, 2011
Updated: April 25, 9:50 AM ET
Roberto Luongo doesn't start, but plays
By Jesse Rogers
CHICAGO -- Roberto Luongo didn't start for the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks, but was pressed into service after an injury to starter Cory Schneider.
With Luongo in goal, Ben Smith scored on a rebound at 15:30 of overtime and the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks beat the Canucks 4-3 to force a seventh game.
Schneider was injured just 2:31 into the third period while attempting to stop a penalty shot by the Blackhawks' Michael Frolik. Frolik scored to tie the game, 3-3.
"I just lost my legs and I seized up and couldn't do anything after that," Schneider said.
Schneider was the surprise Game 6 starter in the teams' Western Conference quarterfinal matchup.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault had announced Luongo as his Game 6 starter immediately following Vancouver's 5-0, Game 5 loss on Thursday, but Schneider took the ice first for warm-ups and started. A Canucks spokesman said Sunday that health was not an issue with Luongo.
"On our way down on Friday I started thinking about it, and we talked within our group, management and coaches, and we made the decision yesterday," Vigneault said after Sunday's game. "Sometimes the book is over rated. The gut told me it was the right thing to do."
The Blackhawks weren't expecting the switch.
"Coming out of warm-ups we were surprised," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We didn't know about it. We thought Luongo was playing."
Luongo, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalies, was pulled in each of the last two games of the series giving up 10 goals on his last 40 shots. The Hawks won Games 4 and 5 after dropping the first three games. Luongo started the first five games of the series.
He has struggled at times in his career against the Blackhawks, but he shut out Chicago in the opener of the series with 32 saves.
Luongo was 38-15-7 with a 2.11 goals-against average in the regular season.
Schneider made his first career playoff start and appeared in his third postseason game overall. He'd relieved Luongo in Games 4 and 5.
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPN 1000 and ESPNChicago.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.