Luongo gets the better of Brodeur again
Rogers Arena, Vancouver
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Roberto Luongo (VAN) — 30 saves
Ryan Kesler (VAN) — 1 goal
Roberto Luongo continues to get the better of Martin Brodeur.
In February, the two goaltenders were together in Vancouver where they were teammates on the Canadian Olympic squad. Luongo displaced Brodeur as the team's No. 1 netminder and went on to backstop Canada to the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Eight months later, Luongo and Brodeur were reunited Tuesday at the site of Team Canada's latest Olympic triumph, and once again it was Luongo who emerged victorious.
Luongo stopped all 30 shots he faced to guide the Canucks to a 2-0 victory over Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, collecting his first shutout of the campaign and 52nd of his career in the process.
"It was nice to start what is going to be a busy two weeks for our team with a win," Luongo said. "We wanted to start off with a win after a long layoff."
Luongo downplayed the significance of the win over Brodeur, who grew up in the same Montreal neighbourhood as his Canucks counterpart.
"It's just a win," Luongo said. "We know we have a tough conference and we want to get as many wins as possible to establish a good [playoff] seed — as soon as possible. We don't want to dig ourselves a hole and climb back like we did last year."
Thanks to Luongo, the Canucks posted their third straight win and improved their record to 5-3-2, having earned 11 of a possible 12 points at home.
After losing four consecutive starts, Luongo has now won two in a row and is 3-3-2 on the season.
Can't buy a win
While Luongo appears to have rebounded, Brodeur can't seem to buy a win. The four-time Vezina Trophy winner has appeared in all 13 of the Devils' games this season, but only has three victories to show for his efforts.
You can't hang Monday's loss entirely Brodeur, though, as the future Hall of Famer received no offensive suppport.
New Jersey forward Ilya Kovalchuk was held pointless for a fourth straight time. The Devils were also missing eight injured regulars, including winger Zach Parise who will have exploratory arthroscopic knee surgery.
Off to their second-worst start in franchise history, the 3-9-1 Devils suffered their sixth loss in seven games.
"It's really disappointing," Brodeur said. "When you look at the number [of injuries], it's mind-boggling a little bit. Especially on the back, on our blue-line, some of our young guys are getting dominated a lot in the zone. When you don't score goals, everything is magnified."
Raffi Torres opened the scoring at 13:19 of the first period, taking a feed from Manny Malhotra and beating Brodeur from close range.
Ryan Kesler doubled the Canucks' advantage early in the middle frame, beating Brodeur with a backhander from the slot after the Devils goalie gave up a rebound.
Brodeur's woes were compounded with just over six minutes left in the third when Henrik Sedin faked him out and slipped a backhander by him on a penalty shot attempt to give the Canucks a three-goal cushion.
Twin brother Daniel Sedin was kept off the score sheet, bringing an end to his 19-game point streak that dated back to March 20 of last season.
Despite being outshot 30-23, the Canucks posted their third straight win and improved to 5-3-2, earning 11 of a possible 12 points at home.
Monday marked the return of Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard, who sat out the last five contests with a head injury he sustained on Oct. 15 against the Los Angeles Kings. Ballard showed no ill effects, fearlessly putting his body on the line to block several shots.
Fellow defenceman Dan Hamhuis missed his fifth straight game for Vancouver with a bruised foot.
With files from The Canadian Press