Hockey

Luongo, Canucks blank Predators

Kyle Wellwood scored twice and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Nashville Predators 4-0 on Tuesday night.

Discarded by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kyle Wellwood is proving a valuable asset for the Vancouver Canucks.

Wellwood tallied twice in support of Roberto Luongo as the Canucks blanked the Nashville Predators 4-0 in front of 18,630 fans at the General Motors Place on Tuesday night.

The crafty forward has six goals and seven points in eight games with the Canucks, who claimed him off waivers from the Maple Leafs on June 25 and signed him for $997,500 US.

"I felt pretty good and, when you're feeling good out there, you know it doesn't last forever," Wellwood said. "But you hope it does."

Toronto placed Wellwood on waivers because he would have been eligible for restricted free agency on July 1 and, in part, because he was injury prone, having missed 57 games the past two seasons with a sports hernia injury.

"For any athlete or professional, it is about yourself, personally, playing the game," Wellwood said. "That is where you're going to find the happiness.

"Not being able to play, feeling unhealthy and out of shape, you're not going to feel so happy and confident. That was my main goal.

"I didn't care too much where I was going to play. I just wanted to get back."

"It was a tough haul," he continued. "There was some disappointment but, fortunately for me, I got my hockey game back and that is what makes me happy."

Daniel Sedin had a goal and an assist, Henrik Sedin had two assists and Mason Raymond had the other goal as the Canucks (7-6-0) halted a two-game losing skid at GM Place.

"They always play well against us," Predators forward Jason Arnott said. "They're a great hockey team, there is no doubt about it.

"Right from Luongo out to the Sedins, they have got a lot of scoring power. They don't get a lot of credit, they play well a lot."

Luongo kicked out 24 shots for his third shutout in 12 starts this season and 41st overall.

Vancouver has limited opponents to seven goals in its last five home games, killing off 23 of 26 power-plays in the process.

"The whole unit on the ice was doing a great job," Luongo said. "We were talking about it the last couple of days and making sure we were keeping the puck on the outside.

"For me, it is easier on my reads. Easier making saves."

Dan Ellis counted 35 saves in a losing cause for the Predators (6-5-1), who had earned points in each of their previous four games (3-0-1).

"Their power play got them a couple goals and ours was not good at all tonight," Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. "That was the game for me."

'He is exceptionally smart out there'

Wellwood broke a scoreless deadlock 9:10 into the second period as he shovelled in a rebound for a power-play goal, his fifth of the season.

It remained 1-0 until Raymond and Wellwood scored in a span of 59 seconds early in the third period.

After Steve Bernier took two whacks of the puck at the right post, Raymond buried the rebound for his fifth at the 5:36 mark.

Wellwood increased it to 3-0 as he retrieved the puck off a faceoff he had taken and flicked it under the crossbar for his second goal on the night and sixth of the campaign.

"He has been a key player for us and the guy we actually look to to carry a line," Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell said. "He has that ability and I'm real happy for him.

"I do have a lot of respect for how he plays the game. I think he is exceptionally smart out there."

Sedin completed the scoring with 5:03 remaining, tipping Mitchell's point shot past Ellis for his fourth.

With files from the Canadian Press

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