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Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo looks on as the Detroit Red Wings celebrate a goal during first-period NHL hockey action in Vancouver on October 27, 2009.


Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo learned two lessons on Tuesday night.

First, he learned that the Detroit Red Wings are never out of an NHL game - even if they trail by two goals and pull their starting goalie. Second, he learned that Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock has a speedy hook, a nugget to remember come the Olympic Games in February.

The Red Wings earned their first road win of the season, and Pavel Datsyuk scored his first two goals of the year as Detroit erased a two-goal deficit for a 5-4 victory at GM Place.

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The win came despite an early shower for goaltender Chris Osgood, whom Babcock yanked after seven minutes, four shots and two goals. Osgood was replaced by backup Jimmy Howard, who earned his first victory in four appearances this year.

"I was thinking he wasn't very good so I better get him out," Babcock said of his starter.

Asked if his hook would be that quick with a Canadian goalie, the Olympic coach didn't hesitate: "If they're playing like that, it would be. You either stop it or you don't."

Jason Williams scored a power-play goal - one of four Detroit tallies in the third period - with about five minutes remaining to hand Vancouver its first loss of the season while leading after two periods. The teams lit the red light six times in the final period, four of them with the man advantage.

Datsyuk finished with three points while Williams and Tomas Holmstrom each had a goal and an assist. Vancouver's Kevin Bieksa had three helpers while Henrik Sedin scored two goals and added an assist.

Niklas Kronwall also scored for Detroit, while Christian Ehrhoff and Mathieu Schneider scored for the home team. It was Schneider's first goal as a Canuck, and it gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead with about 15 minutes to play.

But Datsyuk would score one minute later and the Wings would add two more, beating Luongo five times on 42 shots. Howard, meanwhile, needed to make just 20 saves in the opposing net and got his first victory since the 2005-06 season.

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"It's been a long time coming," Howard said. "Sometimes, if you get thrown in there, it's good to not try and overdo anything and just play the one shooter and let the puck come to you."

Detroit has struggled this season minus four forwards who were lost in free agency. The defending Western Conference champions were just 3-4-2 entering the game, and the dynamic duo of Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg had combined for just one goal.

"We're not going anywhere if every nine games, he and [Zetterberg]have one goal between them," Babcock said. "It doesn't work like that."

Canucks centre Ryan Johnson had a terrifying incident less than two minutes into the second period, after he lost his balance and crashed at high speed into the end board, to the left of Howard's net. Johnson struck the wall with his right shoulder, his body going limp and his right arm extending - and locking into - an awkward position.

The Thunder Bay, Ont., native laid motionless as a hush fell over the crowd and Canucks doctors and trainers stabilized his head and neck. He was carried off the ice on a stretcher, and taken to a nearby hospital.

Canucks general manager Mike Gillis, who saw Johnson minutes after the incident, said the forward had movement and feeling in all extremities, but that he suffered a concussion.

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"It was extremely hard [to concentrate on hockey]the first couple of shifts after it happened," Canucks defenceman Shane O'Brien said. "It was scary. We said 'Let's go get it done for Johnny,' but it wasn't meant to be."

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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