Saturday, November 8, 2008

Luongo Shuts Down Wild Saturday

Another night at GM Place. Another shut-out for Vancouver's captain.

Saturday night, against the team sporting the lowest goals against totals in the NHL, the Canucks shut the door for a third straight game as they blanked the Minnesota Wild 2-0.

Roberto Luongo was the difference maker in this one for the home team. He stopped all 29 shots the Wild fired his way to collect his NHL-leading 5th shut-out. His best period was the middle frame as both Andrew Brunette and Pierre-Marc Bouchard each had a pair of close range opportunities that looked like sure goals. However Luongo came up with some hi-lite reel saves to denied the Wild forwards.

The game winning goal came past the midway point of the first period and it came on a power play. Henrik Sedin was able to get the puck off the half boards to the right point for Kevin Bieksa. He wasted no time dishing it across the line for a wide open Sami Salo, who drilled it by Wild #1 goalie Niklas Backstrom. For Salo, it was his first goal of the season and it came at 13:36. In the process, Salo became the 8th Canucks player to net a game-winning goal this year. It also turned out to be just the fourth goal the Wild surrendered this season while skating short-handed.

Daniel Sedin capped off the scoring for the home team with a key insurance goal on a breakaway. With under three minutes to play in regulation, Daniel received the puck from his brother Henrik and got free behind the defence. A beautiful finish to the back hand gave Backstrom no chance. Bieksa collects his second point of the night on Daniel's 5th of the year at 17:20.

The two clubs finished the night tied on the shot clock with 29 apiece. Vancouver wound up going 1-for-5 on the power play and a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. In their last three shut-out victories on home ice, the Canucks have killed off 12 straight minor penalties.

Luongo has stopped 81 shots in his last three victories. The last goal he gave up was against the Detroit Red Wings on November 2. Since that goal, he has gone 201:08 minutes without allowing a goal against! By the way, Luongo holds the club record for the longest consecutive shut-out streak. Last season over a span of three complete games, he went 210:34 without having the red light behind him turned on.

Now sporting an overall record of 9-6-0, the Canucks are now in first place in the Northwest Division. What's equally as impressive is the fact the Canucks are 4-0-0 against teams in their own division.

Winners of five of their last six games, the Canucks will have a well-deserved day off for rest on Sunday and prepare to get back to practice on Monday. They'll be back on home ice Wednesday November 12 to entertain the Colorado Avalanche.

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