Thursday, March 19, 2009

Luongo Shuts Out Blues Thursday Night

For the first time since November 7, Canucks captain Roberto Luongo held his opponents off the score sheet. Thursday night, Luongo stopped ten shots in each period to lead Vancouver to a 3-0 shut out performance against the St. Louis Blues.

Luongo was at his best in the first half of the hockey game, which saw the Canucks muster up just four shots on net. He made a great save on the first power play the Blues had in the first period as he kicked away a nifty re-direct in the slot from Keith Tkachuk. His best stop in the middle frame came on a 2-on-1 rush as he denied Blues rookie forward Patrik Berglund with a huge right pad save.

The hottest scoring forward for the home team was able to get the sell-out crowd at GM Place on their feet with a little more than five minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Daniel Sedin was able to get the puck in the Blues zone to Henrik Sedin who wasted no time getting it between the face off circles for Alex Burrows. His snap shot was nearly stopped by St. Louis starter Chris Mason. However he didn't get enough of his body behind it and the puck was able to cross the line. Burrows, who now has goals in five of his last six games, collected his 23rd of the year at 14:54.

The Blues had close call in the opening minutes of the final frame to draw level. Luongo was beat on a long wrist shot by Barret Jackman, but his chance rattled off the cross bar.

Vancouver wound up building on their lead when the teams skated 4-on-4. Sami Salo moved the puck up the right wing for Ryan Kesler. After avoiding a hip check at the Blues blue-line by defenceman Roman Polak, Kesler snapped a pass to the crease for Mason Raymond, who put it past Mason. Raymond, who hadn't scored a goal in his previous 26 games, netted his 10th of the year at 8:33.

The Canucks put the game on ice a few shifts later. David Backes fell behind his own goal while in possession of the puck and wound up turning it over to Daniel Sedin. He threw it in front to Henrik Sedin who drove it home. Henrik's 15th of the season occured at 10:29 capping off the Canucks 11th consecutive home ice victory.

Final shots on net favoured the Blues 30-21. The Canucks finished the night going 0-for-2 on the power play and a perfect 5-for-5 on the penalty kill. Vancouver has now killed off 28 of their last 30 short-handed situations.

Luongo now has an overall record of 27-9-6, which includes six shut-outs. He now has 17 clean sheets for his career and is three away from tying former Canucks goalie Kirk McLean for most shut-outs by a Vancouver netminder.

Now with an overall record of 38-23-9, the Canucks get set to embark on a six-game road trip. It will start on Saturday night with a match-up against the Phoenix Coyotes. Game time at the Arena will be at 7:00pm PST.

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