Their record-setting road trip didn't end the way they had hoped, but the Vancouver Canucks can expect a warm welcome in their return to GM Place -- perhaps no one more so than Roberto Luongo.
In their first home game since late January, Luongo and the Northwest Division-leading Canucks take on the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.
Vancouver (41-23-3) went 8-5-1 over its NHL-record 14-game trip while the Winter Olympics took over GM Place, beginning it with a 5-3 win over Toronto on Jan. 30 and ending with a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix on Wednesday.
"There were days when you woke up in another hotel and wondered 'Where are we now?' before you get it together a little bit," center Ryan Kesler told the Canucks' official Web site.
"The last six we've played here on the other end of the Games, that hasn't been as bad ... but those first eight were real tough. They took forever."
Seven Olympians from the Canucks expect to get an especially spirited welcome back from the home fans, in particular Sami Salo, who won a bronze medal with Finland and Kesler, who won silver with the United States.
However, the loudest cheers will no doubt be for Luongo.
Luongo led Canada to its eighth gold medal in hockey, making 34 saves in the 3-2 overtime victory over the Americans. After replacing Martin Brodeur, he won all five of his starts while posting a 1.76 goals-against average.
Luongo is 3-1-0 since the Olympic break, although he's been picked up by the offense. During those starts, he has a 4.20 GAA.
Luongo got the night off Wednesday in favor of Andrew Raycroft, who made 31 saves. Christian Ehrhoff scored the tying goal 1:34 into the third period before Phoenix won in the sixth round of the shootout.
Kesler extended his point streak to 11 games with an assist on Ehrhoff's goal, giving him five goals and eight assists during the stretch.
The Canucks are 23-7-1 and have won five straight at home, where they play 10 of their final 15. They have a three-point lead over Colorado in the division.
"It's good we're going home, but there's no break," Raycroft said. "You have to keep going."
Raycroft was in net for a 3-1 loss in Ottawa on Feb. 4. Luongo has won his last four starts against the Senators (37-26-5).
February's victory was part of an 11-game winning streak for Ottawa, which has gone 4-5-1 since, including a 2-0 loss at Calgary on Thursday. The Senators have scored one or fewer goals in six of their last 10.
They outshot the Flames 33-25 but had just four shots on goal in the opening period and were 0 for 5 on the power play.
"It's always a concern when you don't score, of course, but I'm not going to criticize any of our effort," coach Cory Clouston said. "We had the chances. We had the opportunities. (Peter) Regin hit a post. (Matt) Cullen hit a post. We had a goal disallowed. Sometimes those things happen."
The Senators, who are in second place in the Northeast Division, are closing their three-game trip through Western Canada after opening the stretch with a 4-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday. Of their 14 games remaining, nine are on the road, where they have dropped four of six.
The Senators have lost their last two visits to Vancouver.