Canucks goalkeeper feels the heat

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BOSTON --- Although Roberto Luongo is receiving much of the blame for Vancouver's two-game meltdown in Boston during the Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks refuse to allow their goalie to take the heat alone.

Most of the 12 goals he allowed in just over five periods weren't his fault, defenseman Kevin Bieksa said.

Luongo might have been pulled from a crucial Game 4, but the star goalkeeper will get himself together in time for Game 5 tonight, captain Henrik Sedin promised.

If only the Canucks had provided that much support to Luongo on the ice, maybe they wouldn't be headed home with their series lead completely evaporated.

"These were the same questions Boston got after they lost two games, and they found a way," Sedin said. "We need to do the same thing."

No matter what spin is applied by the Canucks, Boston goalie Tim Thomas has thoroughly outplayed his fellow Vezina Trophy nominee through four games in the finals, which are even heading back to Vancouver.

While no goalie bears sole responsibility for his play, even Vancouver's most faithful fans realize Luongo is struggling after allowing seven goals on the past 23 shots he faced in Boston.

Luongo reportedly was jeered by the crowds at public game-watching parties back in Vancouver when coach Alain Vigneault finally pulled him from Game 4 early during the third period.

Luongo was fidgety and quiet afterward, clearly eager to get away from Boston and hoping his blue home jersey will help restore what he lacked.

"We have two out of three with home-ice advantage, and that's what we've worked for all season," Luongo said.

The Canucks needed just one win to earn the chance to parade the Cup around home ice. Now they'll need to win Game 5 just to stop the Bruins' impressive momentum behind Thomas, who looks increasingly unbeatable after giving up one goal in two home games.

If Vancouver can't recover from a disastrous trip to Boston before tonight, Thomas and the surging Bruins just might steamroll them on the way to a title.

"I think we're giving Thomas too much respect," Bieksa said. "He's leaky. Pucks go through him. We've seen it all year. We just need to put more pucks on him."


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