Canucks blank Ducks in Bertuzzi's return
Todd Bertuzzi's first return visit to Vancouver on Tuesday night turned out to be a non-issue.
Muted cheers for Bertuzzi turned heads in the pre-game warmup, but Roberto Luongo, the man he was traded for, turned aside 25 shots in backstopping the Canucks to a 4-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in front of 18,630 fans at General Motors Place.
It was Luongo's second shutout in as many starts, third of the season and 35th in the NHL.
"They were firing everything and I was able to challenge the shooter every time," he said. "There were no back-door plays and no rebounds."
Luongo has been stellar since coming to Vancouver from the Florida Panthers in a blockbuster trade involving Bertuzzi on June 23, 2006.
"I have got nothing but positives here," Bertuzzi said. "But it is time to move on, I think, for everyone."
Ryan Kesler scored twice, Markus Naslund had one goal and one assist, while Matt Cooke rounded out the scoring as the Canucks (13-9-2) earned back-to-back shutout wins for the first time this season.
Vancouver blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Sunday; Anaheim, meantime, lost for only the third time in eight games.
"I feel pretty confident out there right now with the puck, and I think it is just going to grow," Kesler said. "I have known it was there."
"I feel good about my game," Naslund said. "I feel I have got my head in the right place.
"I try to get [shots] off a little more quicker. So far, so good."
Although Bertuzzi stayed out of the penalty box, the Ducks (11-10-4) were assessed 16 penalties totalling 51 minutes.
"He had a decent first period," Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said of Bertuzzi.
"But after that, he fit into the mold with our group. We're trying to find our consistency right now."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere was nicked for four goals on 27 shots before giving way to rookie Jonas Hiller, who stopped six shots, including a penalty shot by Henrik Sedin.
Sedin and Mattias Ohlund had two assists apiece for the Canucks, who seemed to put Bertuzzi at ease more than the media did.
"Obviously, I'm a little uncomfortable coming up and speaking in front of everyone," Bertuzzi told reporters. "Personally, it is a big deal just for myself [to return].
"I don't think media-wise and attention-wise, it is that big of a deal. Wayne Gretzky being traded is a fairly big deal."
Bertuzzi has one goal and four assists for five points in 10 games with the Ducks, who inked him to a two-year, $8-million US contract on July 2.
Bertuzzi spent most of last season recovering from back surgery, finishing with three goals and 11 points in 15 games for the Florida Panthers and Red Wings, who acquired him for Shawn Matthias and two draft picks on Feb. 27, 2006.
"The past year and a half has been a little bit of a roller-coaster with the injuries," he said. "At the same time, I think I have still got a lot of gas left in the tank.
"It takes a little bit of time coming off an injury," Bertuzzi continued. "But I feel things rounding up and I feel like I've got one, two, three, four or more [seasons] left in me."
Moore lawsuit pending
Bertuzzi was an all-star forward for the Canucks when he incited disgust and outrage by blindsiding Colorado Avalanche rookie Steve Moore with a punch from behind on March 8, 2004.
Moore suffered three broken vertebrae in his neck and a concussion, and has yet to play since.
The NHL suspended Bertuzzi indefinitely and did not reinstate him until Aug. 8, 2005 — exactly 17 months later.
Bertuzzi remained under suspension throughout the 310-day NHL lockout and was prohibited from competing in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, two world championships and in European pro leagues.
He also forfeited $501,926.39 US in salary and hundreds of thousands more in endorsements.
Criminal charges filed against Bertuzzi in Vancouver resulted in a guilty plea and a sentence of one year's probation plus 80 hours of community service.
Moore later filed a lawsuit in Denver against Bertuzzi and other notables, including Canucks ownership, but it was dismissed.
With Bertuzzi in Turin, Italy, playing for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics, Moore filed a second lawsuit on Feb. 15, 2006.
That case remains before the courts, and Bertuzzi refuses to comment on it.
"At some point, I think it is going to be resolved," said Ducks general manager Brian Burke, who was GM of the Canucks at the time of the incident.
"That will be a good day for hockey in general, not just for Todd, not just for any of the teams involved. I think it'll be a good day for you folks to focus on something else and all of us in the NHL to focus on playing hockey."
"I cannot condone what happened that night," Burke continued. "But I think what Todd meant to do was well-intentioned.
"I don't want anyone to misconstrue this. I'm not condoning what happened.
"This is a guy who thought he was going to the aid of not just a teammate, but his best friend, and our best player. Everyone wishes they can turn the clock back — but they cannot."
With files from the Canadian Press