Luongo redeemed as Canucks beat Sharks
Roberto Luongo made 32 saves as the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-2 on Thursday night.
Luongo redeemed himself after was pulled after the second period of an embarrassing 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.
"In the third, we had Roberto come up with the saves that he needed to at the right time," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said.
"The guys battled real hard and he battled real hard. It was a one-goal game."
Alexander Edler and Ryan Kesler each had a goal and an assist while Ryan Johnson, with his first goal in 82 games, also scored for Vancouver (44-24-3).
"I've wanted to bury one," said Johnson. "But like I've always said, I'd rather have a big one … and it was."
Ryan Clowe and Joe Pavelski replied for the Sharks (43-17-10), who suffered their fourth straight loss.
San Jose, which entered the game with outright possession of first place in the Western Conference, had beaten Vancouver in eight of nine previous meetings. Thursday's game was the first of three Sharks-Canucks games between now and the end of the regular season.
The Sharks entered the game still smarting from an 8-2 shellacking in Dallas on Tuesday, the first time they had surrendered eight goals since 2006.
Unlike two nights earlier, the Canucks got off to a strong start as the Sharks ran into early penalty trouble. Edler opened the scoring on a power play 8:31 into the game, putting his point shot through screened goaltender Evgeni Nabakov.
The goal came only 17 seconds after Joe Thornton was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking Alex Burrows along the boards.
Kesler put the Canucks ahead 2-0 during another power play just under four minutes later as Kyle Wellwood screened Nabakov again.
The Canucks converted two of three first-period power plays and outshot the Sharks 13-6 in the period.
With the clubs playing four-on-four, Clowe put the Sharks on the board four minutes into the second as he easily outmuscled, Christian Ehrhoff and then went around Luongo.
Johnson gave Vancouver a 3-1 lead at 16:48 of the second with his first goal since Jan. 28, 2009. Rick Rypien, who has missed much of the season due to injury and undisclosed personal issues, drew a rare assist for just his fourth point of the season.
Luongo preserved the Canucks two-goal advantage for most of the third with some timely saves.
He thwarted Devin Setoguchi with 10 minutes left, picked off a Pavelski shot with his catching glove, and kicked out a Manny Malhotra slapshot during a Sharks' power play.
"The last seven minutes when we took that penalty, they took over a little bit," said Vigneault. "You could tell that the momentum was going their way and our goaltender did what he needed to do to keep us winning that game."
Pavelski drew the Sharks within a goal at 16:52.
Minor-league callup Michael Grabner played in place of injured Vancouver winger Mikael Samuelsson, the NHL's first star last week, who is out two or three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered Tuesday.
Grabner was with the Canucks early in the season but suffered a freak ankle fracture while playing soccer in a pre-game warmup Nov.1. He clanked a shot off the post in the first period.