Canucks' Luongo aims for exclusive club
Two days after setting the Canucks' single-season record for wins, Roberto Luongo will try for another exclusive milestone.
Luongo will attempt to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to notch 40 victories in a season when his Canucks visit the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday (5 p.m. PT).
If successful, Luongo will be the second goalie this season to accomplish the feat. Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils reached the 40-win plateau for the sixth time in his career last week.
All-time NHL shutout leader Terry Sawchuk and Jacques Plante have done it three times, while Bernie Parent, Ed Belfour and Ken Dryden have done it twice. Six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek and all-time wins leader Patrick Roy each reached the mark just once.
Several factors have helped Luongo get to the brink of 40 wins with 14 games left on Vancouver's schedule. The indefatigable 27-year-old has played in all butfive of the Canucks' 68 contests so far, and his team leads the Northwest Division with a sparkling 41-22-5 record.
Shootouts — introduced by the NHL before last season to settle gamestied after overtime —also provide Luongo with more opportunities to collect a win than his predecessors enjoyed.
In his last outing, Luongo made 25 saves and the Canucks won their fifth straight by beating San Jose 2-1 in overtime on Friday.
"Once the season is over, it might be something to look at as a nice achievement," Luongo told the team's official website. "But at the same time, our main goal is the playoffs."
Giguere likely to face Luongo
Luongo broke the team record set by Kirk McLean in 1991-92, but needed the Canucks' league-leading 27th one-goal victory to do so. Taylor Pyatt snapped a scoreless tie early in the third period and Henrik Sedin scored 3:30 into the extra session.
"Every time we get into those types of situations, especially OT, it seems like we can't really lose," said Luongo.
But Luongohas lost both his starts this season against the Ducks (41-17-11). He was lifted after giving up three goals on nine shots in less than 26 minutes during a 6-0 loss to Anaheim on Nov. 9. Three weeks later, Luongo gave up Ryan Getzlaf's power-play goal with 7:34 remaining in the third period en route to a 2-1 defeat.
The Canucks have won four of their last five in Anaheim, including a 3-2 overtime victory on Feb. 20 in which rookie backup Dany Sabourin made 38 saves for his first career win.
The Ducks enter this contest on a four-game winning streak after Getzlaf had two goals and an assist in a 5-1 rout of Edmonton on Friday night.
"We're headed in the right direction, and hopefully we can keep playing like that," said Andy McDonald, who became the fifth Ducks player with 20 goals this season. "If we're going to have any success in the playoffs, we're going to have to compete like that every night."
Backup Ilya Bryzgalov made 28 saves Friday, so Jean-Sebastien Giguere likely will be in net for this game. Giguere hasallowed only seven goals while winning his last four starts— all at home— to improve to 19-2-5 with a 2.01 goals-against average at the Honda Center.
Against the Canucks this season, Giguere is 2-0-1 and has stopped 71 of 75 shots for a 1.32 GAA.
Leading scorer Teemu Selanne will try to avoid going a season-high third straight game without a point and reach a milestone for Anaheim. Selanne needs one goal to match his total from last season and reach the 40-goal mark for the sixth time in his career.
He hasn't scored a goal in three games this season versus the Canucks, but has three goals and five assists in a six-game point streak against them.
With files from the Associated Press