Luongo, Canucks shut out Blues

Terry Jones, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:39 AM ET

VANCOUVER – The St. Louis Blues hadn't lost back-to-back games since Jan. 11 and 13.

And the Vancouver Canucks haven't won a Stanley Cup playoff series in fewer than seven games since they last made it to the final back in 1994.

The Blues lost 3-0 to go down 2-0 in the series here last night. And the Canucks, by sweeping the first two games of the series here set up an opportunity to get it over early.

With Roberto Luongo registering his third shutout in the last five games and stopping 142 of the last 144 shots fired at him, he's becoming as big a mental block for the Blues as he is a physical blocker.

But David Backes, the Blue who came closest to scoring this night, doesn't think so. Nor does the goalie at the other end of the ice.

“I don't think hes getting in our heads,” said Backes, who had the best chance of the game to that point and was robbed by a leg save by Luongo, only to take a tripping penalty in frustration after sensational save.

“We just didn't make the shots we needed to make. We needed up with a goose egg as a result.”

Red Deer native Chris Mason, who took over the team after the pair of loses in January and led the Blues from 15th to sixth as they went 24-8-6 and a remarkable 9-1-1 to end the season, says it felt weird to finally lose two in a row.

“It's different. We're just not scoring right now.”

The reason, he says, isn't so much Luongo – for the second game in a row Hockey Night In Canada's first star of the game – but the Blues who are making it easy for the Canucks captain in the crease to star.

“He saw all of the shots,” said Mason.

“Getting to the net is the key to our game and the key to beating all the goalies in this league.”

Mason isn't buying the idea that Luongo is becoming as big a mental block as a physical block.

“I don't think so. There's a lot more we can do. If he sees it he's going to stop it. He's playing well but we're not getting to the net.

“If we're going to beat him we've got to get to the net. We just didn't pay the price to get there. We have to go to the net.”

Much-maligned Mats Sundin managed to tip a shot from the point to give the Canucks a soft goal which trickled between the legs of Red Deer's Chris Mason late in the second period to break a scoreless tie.

Mason, who had stopped the first 17 shots of the game, leaked on the shot from Pavol Demitra with Ryan Kessler picking up the second assist which was Sundin's first shot on goal of the game in which the former Toronto Maple Leaf hadn't played much better than he did in his first playoffs game in five years two nights earlier. But nobody else had been able to put the puck into the net to that point.

Halfway through the third period Alex Burrows grabbed a puck previously handled by Daniel and Henrik Sedin and jamming it in the side to give Luongo two goals to work with to bring this one home.

Henrik Sedin scored the empty net goal to seal the deal.

While there was no scoring in the first 38 minutes of Game 2 it wasn't one of those games that only a soccer fan could love.

While the closest thing to a goal prior to Sundin's tip was Alex Burrow's gloved-in non-goal midway through the second period, it was Blues' David Backes who had the best chance of the game to that point and was robbed by a leg save by Roberto Luongo only to take a tripping penalty in frustration after sensational save.

As was the case in the first period, but not in the first game of the series won 2-1 by the Canucks here Wednesday, there was a real playoff pace with several great chances until Sundin gave Luongo the lead.

If Game 1, highlighted by a wimpy controversy about the Blues giving Luongo snow showers and didn't really feel like playoff hockey, that was cured early here last night.

O.K.. Nobody gooned a goalie. But it definitely felt like a playoff game.

With a palpitating pace and no lack of hits and battles for pucks all over the ice, the two teams which had put together the best two records coming down the stretch this season provided terrific Stanley Cup action.


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