A Labrador Innu leader saved the Conservatives from a shutout in Newfoundland and Labrador in Monday's election, with the Liberals holding their ground in rural Newfoundland and the New Democrats sweeping St. John's.

Peter Penashue was named the winner in the Labrador riding after results from the last five polls were counted. Until then, he had been trailing Liberal incumbent Todd Russell.

"Well, I must say it's been a roller-coaster ride. It's been exciting," Penashue told CBC News Monday night.

"In the final count, it was enough to bring me over the top. So, I'm very excited about that."

His surprise win came more than a hour after many had declared Russell as the winner in Labrador. The final polls to report likely involved Innu communities, where participation in the advance poll was significantly higher than usual.

"We've made history, all of us in Labrador, and changed it," said Penashue.

Labrador had often been considered one of the safest Liberal seats in Canada, with the riding's voters backing the party every time but once. The Conservatives last won the riding in 1968.

Former senator Manning defeated

Elsewhere in the province, Liberal Scott Andrews was re-elected in the riding of Avalon, ensuring the Conservatives didn't take a seat on the island of Newfoundland.

Tory candidate Fabian Manning, whom Andrews defeated in 2008, lost again in a very tight race.

Manning took a risk in the campaign by quitting his seat in the Senate, in what turned out to be a failed bid to sit again in the Commons.

"Something inside of me wanted me to get out there again, offer myself as a candidate in the election, and I did that. I certainly don’t have any... I live with very few regrets," Manning said Monday night.

Although the "anything but Conservative" campaign that then-premier Danny Williams waged in 2008 was officially over, the sentiment was still present with many voters. Tory organizers told CBC News they met with steady resistance to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper while canvassing for support.

Orange wave in St. John's

The election also saw a dramatic breakthrough for the New Democrats in the St. John's area. Journalist  Ryan Cleary easily defeated Liberal incumbent Siobhan Coady in St. John's South-Mount Pearl, with former provincial Tory minister Loyola Sullivan trailing far behind.

Meanwhile, NDP support saw incumbent Jack Harris take a landslide victory in neighbouring St. John's East.

The New Democrats poured considerable resources into the two city ridings, and gained considerable support from students and young voters, with dozens of them volunteering to work on the campaigns.

Dunderdale support questioned

Losses for star Conservative candidates in the ridings of Avalon, St. John's South-Mount Pearl and Random-Burin-St. Georges's left some questioning current Premier Kathy Dunderdale's support for Stephen Harper, who put support for a loan guarantee for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric project in the party's platform.


Liberal Scott Andrews hugs a supporter after learning he was re-elected in the eastern Newfoundland riding of Avalon. ((Zach Goudie/CBC))

"She put all her stock in Harper and it failed," said re-elected Liberal Gerry Byrne, who won the riding of Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte.

"Why [the provincial Progressive Conservatives] ever got involved in this campaign to begin with is a mystery to me, but they did it. They took a big risk. They had nothing to gain, everything to lose. They're the big losers tonight."

Those comments were echoed by re-elected Liberal Andrews.

"The premier put all her eggs in one basket. The Conservatives are going to have to answer for that in October," said Andrews, who was one of four Liberals returned to Parliament.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberals will likely play a part in rebuilding the party nationally, following a rout that saw the Grit caucus cut to 34 seats, and Leader Michael Ignatieff lose his seat.

Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor

Liberal Scott Simms was re-elected in the central Newfoundland riding of Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor with 57 percent of the vote there.

Conservative Aaron Hynes received 27 percent of the vote in the riding.

Humber-St. Barbe-Baie Verte

Byrne won the western Newfoundland riding of Humber - St. Barbe - Baie Verte with 57 per cent of votes in the area.

Conservative Trevor Taylor, a former provincial cabinet minister, received 25 per cent of the vote.

Random- Burin-St. George's

Forty-nine per cent of people in the southern Newfoundland riding of Random-Burin-St. George's voted to re-elect Liberal Judy Foote.

Conservative John Ottenheimer, another former provincial cabinet minister, won 32 per cent of the votes cast in the riding.