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Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo was injured in the opening period of Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Penguins. ((Jason Cohn/Reuters))

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo's injury status is listed as week to week, a much softer prognosis than the one offered up by the player's agent.

Luongo, 29, had an MRI that revealed a strained left groin, and told reporters Monday evening that he wasn't sure how long it would take to heal.

"We don't know," Luongo said. "It is the first time I have had an injury like this. "I will be working hard with the training staff and the medical guys, try to get it back as soon as possible. But I really don't know how long it is going to take."

Canucks rookie general manager Mike Gillis wrote on the team's website that Luongo "has an adductor strain (groin) and his return status is week to week."

Gilles Lupien, who represents Luongo, told cyberpresse.ca and the Vancouver Province that the netminder might be shelved as long as four to five weeks.

Messages left by CBCSports.ca to Lupien were not immediately returned, but he told the Province: "They [cyberpresse.ca] asked me if 4-5 weeks is a reasonable timetable for an injury like this and I said it was. But I don't know, I have not seen the results from the MRI and I have not talked to Luongo today."

"I kind of knew it wasn't as bad, but you never know until you get the MRI," Luongo said. "I was happy to hear the results."

Luongo suffered the injury making a relatively routine save on Philippe Boucher in the opening period of Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It is not as painful as two days ago, so that is a good start," Luongo said. "Pretty much, I cannot really be moving it around at all without feeling any pain.

"Walking has just got comfortable for me right now, so it is improving every day. But there is still a little ways to go."

Curtis Sanford replaced Luongo in Saturday's win and stopped 17 of 18 shots.

"It is deflating," he said of Luongo's injury. "But he is a tough guy.

"I tore my groin before, pretty severely, and it wasn't fun. It was four months before I started playing again."

"You never want to see your captain go down, especially a player of his calibre and being the best player on our team," Canucks forward Ryan Kesler said. "It definitely hurts."

'A lot of pressure'

Sanford, 29, was pressed into making his third start of the season Monday night, and played brilliantly as Vancouver prevailed 3-2 over the Detroit Red Wings in overtime.

Sanford kicked out 32 of 34 shots to improve to 3-1-0 in five games this season.

He was backed up by 22-year-old Cory Schneider, who went 10-1 with the AHL's Manitoba Moose before being promoted to the NHL.

"Obviously, there is a lot of pressure," Sanford said. "But this is what we play for.

"It is something we embrace. It gets you on your toes and you get out there and play as best you can."

"Our players play well in front of Curtis and Curtis is an experienced NHL goaltender," coach Alain Vigneault said. "He will do a good job for us.

"It is a great challenge for our core players. I think we have responded real well this year when we have been challenged."

'He is irreplaceable'

Few challenges would be bigger than a lengthy injury to Luongo, who posted a sensational 0.97 goals-against average in winning five of his last eight starts. 

"He is irreplaceable, obviously," Sanford said. "But we have guys in here who're playing well and guys who're going to step up and do a good job for us."

Luongo is 11-5-2 with a 2.17 GAA and five shutouts in 19 starts this season, his third for Vancouver.

He also broke his own a franchise record by going 242 minutes 36 seconds without giving up a goal.

With files from the Canadian Press