Luongo blanks Jackets, sets shutout mark
Roberto Luongo set the Vancouver Canucks shutout record, but more importantly, guided them to a 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night at General Motors Place.
Luongo made26 saves to earn his third straight shutout and the Canucks got goals from Mattias Ohlund and Lukas Krajicek.
Luongo hasn't allowed a goal in his last 193 minutes,56 seconds, breaking the Canucks' shutout record of 184:20 that was set by Ken Lockett over four games from March 29-April 4, 1975.
Luongo, who won only four times in his first 12 contests while allowing 33 goals early in the season, now has eight victories in his last 10 games as the Canucks (14-9-2) have recovered from their early-season struggles.
"It's nice, but I think right now we've got to look at the way we're winning games and the type of hockey we're playing and I think the whole group should feel good about themselves," said Luongo, insisting his play is a result of vastly improved team defence inNovember.
"You just got to make sure you're on top of your game and challenging. It helps to know the guys are doing a good job taking away backdoors and slot rebounds and plays and stuff like that. It gives an opportunity to challenge a bit more."
The Quebec native's run includes a 2-0 shutout over Chicago on Sunday, when he made 27 saves, and Tuesday's 4-0 blanking of the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, who couldn't beat the Canucks goalie with any of their 26 shots.
"Absolutely," said captain Markus Naslund when asked if the focus in the third by his teammates was getting Luongo the shutout record.
"He's the backbone. He's our leader and it's great to see him get that kind of recognition."
The Blue Jackets (11-10-1) played without the services of No. 1 goalie Pascal Leclaire, who injured his hamstring six minutes into the second period of Monday's 3-1 loss at Edmonton.
Leclair had led Columbus to the best start in its seven-year history by going 10-5-1 with a 1.88 GAA and an NHL-leading six shutouts in 18 appearances.
Fredrik Norrena played well in Leclair's absence, stopping19 Vancouver shots.
After a scoreless first period, the Canucks took a 1-0 lead at 4:05 of the second.
Ohlund's intended cross-ice pass went off the skate of Blue Jackets defenceman Adam Foote and behind Norrena.
Krajicek gave Vancouver some breathing room with his second goal of the season more than eight minutes later. Krajicek finished off a nifty three-way passing play with Henrik and Daniel Sedin and slipped the puck under Norrena.
The Canucks thrived in the second period despite being badly outshot 15-6 by the Blue Jackets because of the brilliance of Luongo.
While one of his finest stops may have occurred in the first period after denying winger Rick Nash from in close, Luongo shone even brighter in the second.
Facing consistent pressure, Luongo stoned the Blue Jackets at every turn, especially during two penalties in the final 8:40 of the period.
"We all know what he means to our team," coach Alain Vigneault said. "In the third, our guys I think understood what was at stake and they buckled down. We're playing well defensively but when we're not — the first period against Anaheim [also 15 saves] and second period tonight — the goalie is real good."
With files from the Associated Press