The Anaheim Ducks spoiled Roberto Luongo's chance for a possible storybook ending to his regular season career on the Vancouver Canucks' home ice.
Brad Staubitz's second-period goal sent the Ducks to a 3-1 victory over the Canucks in Vancouver's final home game of the regular season Thursday.
The Ducks outshot the Canucks 30-29, but the margin was close only after Vancouver fired 20 at Jonas Hiller in the third period. Vancouver finishes the regular season Saturday on the road against the Edmonton Oilers.
"Obviously, it's a disappointing loss for myself and [we] move on to Saturday," said Luongo, who finished with 27 saves.
"It felt pretty good tonight. Obviously, let in a goal [by Staubitz] that I should have had, but other than that, I felt decent."
The Ducks improved to 30-11-6 in their final road game of the regular season. They finished the lockout-shortened campaign with 14 road wins against 10 losses.
The loss ended Vancouver's home win streak at eight games as their record dropped to 26-14-7. The Canucks finished with a 15-6-3 home mark.
The stage was set for Luongo to shine as many wondered whether he was playing his final game in Vancouver — depending how soon Cory Schneider returns from an undisclosed injury and how the Canucks fare in the playoffs.
Luongo delivered a strong performance in his first home start since March 18, but the Ducks diverted from the story line as they controlled play in the first two periods and built up an insurmountable 2-0 lead while holding a 29-5 edge in shots.
"He played well," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "I'm sure he'd like to have the second goal back, but he gave us a chance to stay in the game — and did what he had to do."
Staubitz's goal on a shot from right wing at 8:21 of the second proved to be the winner as it gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead that held up after 40 minutes before a desperate Vancouver rally fell short in the third.
The goal was the first of the season for Staubitz, who had sat out 11 of his club's past 13 games as a healthy scratch.
Canucks defenceman Andrew Alberts stuck out his stick in a bid to block the shot. But Luongo said Alberts did not get a piece of the puck. The shot just "handcuffed" him as it went in on his glove side.
"But that's not an excuse," said Luongo. "I have to make that save 100 times out of 100."
Matt Beleskey, also in the second period, and Andrew Cogliano, with a short-handed empty-netter in the final minute of the third, scored for the Ducks.
Jason Garrison replied for the Canucks during a five-on-three power play late in the third period after Ben Lovejoy was penalized for hooking and Sheldon Souray received a double-minor for high-sticking.
With the Canucks pressing and Luongo on the bench for an extra attacker, Cogliano clinched the win for the Ducks with his empty-net marker while Souray was still in the penalty box.
"I don't want to make excuses for the group," said Luongo. "We're all professionals and we know the intensity we need to be successful and we saw that in the third when we were playing our game. We completely dominated the play."
Anaheim had already clinched the Pacific Division title and the second playoff seed in the Western Conference while the Canucks had locked down their fifth straight Northwest crown and the third seed behind Anaheim. So the game had the importance — and look — of an exhibition contest.
Despite resting key players, the Ducks outhustled and outmuscled a Vancouver squad that used most of its regulars but delivered a dreadful performance in the first 40 minutes.
"I don't have an answer for you," said Vigneault while attempting to explain his team's showing.
"Basically, we weren't very good in the first two periods. They outworked us. They were first to the puck and, obviously, winning a lot more battles. In the third, we had a little bit more jump than they did. [It was a] closer game, but it wasn't good enough tonight — without a doubt."
Luongo got the start after Schneider was injured in Monday's win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Vigneault has declined to disclose the exact nature, or full extent, of Schneider's injury.
Schneider, who displaced Luongo as the starter in last spring's playoffs, was ticketed long ago was Vancouver's post-season starter. The Canucks are expected to move Luongo via trade or a contract buyout in the off-season after they were unable to swing a deal at the trade deadline or last summer.
But Luongo, who remained winless at home since March 14 against Nashville as his record on the season dropped to 9-5-3, did not view the game as a send-off.
"For me, it didn't feel like the last game," said Luongo. "So it's tough to think that way when there are games ahead."