Curtis Sanford eyes the puck in Monday's 3-2 Canucks triumph. ((Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press))

Curtis Sanford's imitation of Roberto Luongo was anything but a pale one.

Sanford started in place of the injured Luongo and posted 32 saves as the Vancouver Canucks prevailed 3-2 in overtime over no less than the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings at General Motors Place on Monday night.

Luongo, who has started 19 games, is listed as week-to-week with a strained left groin suffered early in Saturday's 3-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"We're rallying around each other," Sanford said. "There is adversity right now and we're finding a way to deal with it."

"It is nice for Curtis," Canucks forward Daniel Sedin said. "He is going to be in the net for a while and it is a good start."

Sami Salo notched the decisive goal 2:33 into OT to make a winner of Sanford, who played with supreme confidence in just his third start and fifth appearance this season.

"I was moving well," Sanford said. "I think it just comes with playing.

"Every goalie wants to play all the time. But I feel I'm getting a little more comfortable every game and through every period."

"We know he is a good goalie, so he can keep this going," Sedin said.

With Johan Franzen serving a minor penalty for interference, Salo stepped into Pavol Demitra's soft pass and blasted the puck past Red Wings goaltender Chris Osgood for the winning tally.

"I basically slept the last 96 hours before today, so it is a nice feeling to get the win," said Salo, who sat out the previous two games because of the flu.

It was Salo's second goal of the season, a power-play effort with the teams skating 4-on-3.

"We went into the game like it was a measurement stick for us," Salo said. "They're the best team in the league right now and they played really well.

"Even though they have injuries, we saw how well they played — very tight in the neutral zone — and that caught us a little bit by surprise."

Salo and Daniel Sedin had one goal and one assist apiece as the Canucks (14-6-2) chalked up their fourth straight win.

Taylor Pyatt tallied the other goal for Vancouver, which is an impressive 8-0-2 since losing 3-2 to Detroit on Nov. 2.

"We let one slip away," Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. "Full marks to them.

"We gave up 24 shots on the road and very few opportunities and they were able to find a way to win. We took a penalty in OT and they made a good play."

Mikael Samuelsson opened the scoring with his fifth for the Red Wings (14-2-4), fooling a sliding Sanford with a rising backhand shot 9:22 into the contest.

It remained 1-0 until Pyatt pounced on a turnover in the slot and beat Osgood high to the glove side for his third at 2:27 of the second period.

Detroit regained the lead on Datsyuk's power-play goal at 16:25 of the third period.

Datsyuk used Willie Mitchell as a screen on the play, fired a wrist shot between the defenceman's legs and over Sanford's right shoulder for his eighth.

But the Canucks refused to fold, and Sedin deflected Salo's point shot past a startled Osgood with 2:25 remaining in regulation.

It was Sedin's 10th goal of the campaign and 400th NHL point — one more than twin brother, Henrik — and he later made it to 401 with an assist on the winner.

With files from the Canadian Press