Friday, April 17, 2009

Luongo Shuts Door In Game 2

The St. Louis Blues have not been able to find a way to beat Roberto Luongo, despite numerous scoring chances. In a hi-lite reel performance Friday night, the Canucks captain turned aside all 30 shots he faced for his first career playoff shut-out, lifting Vancouver to a 3-0 win. The victory puts the Northwest Division champs into a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series.

There were no goals scored in the opening period of action, one that may have been the most entertaining opening 20 minutes the Canucks have been involved in all year! Both teams went back and forth up and down the ice with very few whsitles to hault play. At the same time, there were some great body checks thrown by both squads, getting the sell-out crowd at GM Place fired up even more. Both Luongo and Blues netminder Chris Mason did there part in keeping things scoreless as the teams were credited more with hits than shots on net!

Luongo and Mason continued their solid play prior to the midway point of the middle frame when the two sides exchanged chances on the power play. David Backes was robbed from close quarters on an unreal toe save made by Luongo. Then a short time later with Backes in the box, Pavol Demitra had Mason beat, but his re-direct on a slick pass from Ryan Kesler just rolled wide of the post.

Alex Burrows was the first Canucks player to get a puck past Mason and into the net. However the goal was clearly waved off as Burrows was guilty of puching the puck with his hand.

Andy McDonald looked like he might be able to open the scoring for the visitors, but his close range chance with a little more than three mintues remaining rattled off the cross bar.

Just when it looked like the two teams would head to the intermission break still looking for a goal, the Canucks were able to get the crowd on their feet. Kesler was able to get the puck up the left wing for Demitra. Once he got into the Blues territory, he fed a high pass towards the net. Driving the goal and batting it out of mid-air was Mats Sundin, who's re-direct found a way to squeek through the pads of Mason. Sundin, who hadn't scored a goal in his previous 14 for the Canucks, netted what proved to be the game winner at 18:04.

The Canucks had a couple of great chances to start the third period to build on the lead as Daniel Sedin five seconds in and Mason Raymond a few minutes later were foiled on good stops made by Mason.

The Blues were given a great chance to get the equalizer with Burrows in the box on a tripping penalty. However, Luongo turned out to be the best Canucks penalty killer, denying McDonald on a huge sprawling save in the crease before making a big glove arm stop from long range courtesy of T.J. Oshie.

Shortly after Burrows got back on to the ice, he gave the Canucks the important insurance goal they were hoping for. Good work from Daniel and Henrik Sedin down low behind the net allowed Burrows a chance to come out in front and bank it off Mason and in. Burrows tallied his first ever playoff goal at 9:46.

McDonald and Carlo Colaiacovo had the final two best chances to beat Luongo in the final , but they were either denied by the netminder or the cross bar behind him. Eventually with Mason pulled to the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues attempted to pull out all the stops to get on the scoreboard. However they wound up giving up one more goal against as Henrik found the pack of the net. Daniel and Sami Salo chip in the assists on Henrik's first of the series at 18:36.

At the end of the game, tempers flared up as a dust-up insued in the Canucks corner. Kevin Bieksa and B.J. Crombeen got involved first and then things escalated from there. Steve Bernier and Barret Jackman were each assessed fighting majors while Rick Rypien was dinged with a ten minute misconduct. Eventually the teams left the ice and prepared for a Game 3 rematch at the Scott Trade Center on Sunday night.

Final shots on net favoured the Blues 30-27 in a game which saw both teams go 0-for-4 on the power play.

Luongo has turned aside 55 shots in the opening two games of the series. In his last four straight starts, he has allowed one goal against and collected three shut-outs along the way! The last time the Canucks shut-out an opponent in the playoffs, you have to go all the way back to May of 1994 when the Canucks blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Campbell Conference finals.

The two teams will travel to St. Louis Saturday in preparation for Game 3. Face off is 4:00pm PST.

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