Toronto, Canada – By Steve Keating
VANCOUVER (Reuters) - The Vancouver Canucks edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 Monday to notch their season high fifth consecutive win.
Brad Lukowich, a minor league call-up who had scored once in the last three seasons, was the unlikely game winner, taking a between the legs pass from Daniel Sedin and driving it past Sabres netminder Ryan Miller at 5:21 in the third period.
"It's been almost two years now, so it's been a while that's why I looked to the heavens," Defenseman Lukowich told reporters. "I just put my stick down and screamed like crazy."
It will be almost two months before the Canucks return home for a March 13 date with the Ottawa Senators, a long stretch of 14 away games that will be split up by the NHL's Olympic break.
Of their recent five-game run, four of the Canucks wins have come at GM Place.
"We've been saying all along we need as many home wins as we can because it is a tough road schedule," Daniel Sedin said.
"I'm sure we'll get some wins the way we're playing right now, it should suit us well on the road we shouldn't have much difficulty. But it's difficult on the road for sure."
ROAD WEARY SABRES
If the Canucks needed a reminder of how tough a grind life away from home can be, they only needed to look across the ice at the road weary Sabres, who suffered their fourth straight defeat to end a seven-game road trip.
Making their first visit to Vancouver in four years, the Sabres will be in no rush to return having gone more than a decade without a win in the Olympic city, their last victory coming on February 28, 1999.
The early part of the contest featured a goaltending duel between two players expected to play prominent roles in next month's Winter Games.
Roberto Luongo, who is bidding for the starting role in the Canadian net was solid, handling 32 shots while Miller, the man expected to get the starting assignment in the U.S. cage, faced 25.
Buffalo opened the scoring at 3:13 in the second period with Adam Mair's first of the season but the Canucks answered with goals from Mikael Samuelsson at 8:13 and the NHL's leading points scorer Henrik Sedin on a breakaway two minutes later.
Buffalo pulled level early in the final period on a powerplay score from Thomas Vanek before Vancouver regained the lead on Lukowich's first goal since November 5, 2007.
(Editing by Patrick Johnston)