January 31, 2013
Roberto Luongo earns shutout in Canucks win
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo makes a save against the Avalanche during second period NHL action in Vancouver on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (Ben Nelms/Reuters)

VANCOUVER - This time, the Vancouver Canucks held onto their two-goal lead.

Already haunted twice this season by giving up an early multi-goal advantage including blowing the exact same lead two nights earlier against Los Angeles the Canucks finished the job Wednesday at Rogers Arena. But with the 3-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche comes another chapter in the Canucks goalie predicament.

Roberto Luongo, making his second straight start, put together another stellar showing this one highlighted by a 24-save performance and the 61st shutout of his career. The question now; with Cory Schneider still considered the No. 1 goalie, who gets the start Friday against the much-anticipated showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks?

"I'll tell you tomorrow," coach Alain Vigneault said with a laugh in the post-game presser. "At the end of the day, they're both quality individuals and they will do what I say and never complain. When I call one to go in our net, I know he's going to give us the best chance to win."

Adds Luongo, who also picked up his first win of the season: "The guys did a great job in front of me. It allowed me to do my job much easier, there wasn't really any second or third opportunities either.

"Whatever the decision (by Vigneault) is, it'll be fine. Whoever starts Friday is good."


Afterwards in the dressing room, some of the talk was also centred on the team's ability to hold onto the lead and pick up their third win of the year.

"We didn't want to sit back, we wanted to keep going," said Zack Kassian, who picked up his team-leading fifth goal of the season in the third period. "It was one of our better games."

Another goal-scorer on the night, Jason Garrison adds the importance of burying their opponents after a couple failed attempts so far this season.

"We just learn from our mistakes," the blueliner said. "Tonight, we played a solid 60 minutes and did the little things right.

Meanwhile, Colorado falls to 2-4-0, playing without their captain Gabriel Landeskog (concussion) and forward Steve Downie (torn ACL).

Vancouver didn't get their first shot of the game until 7:34 into the first period, but they made it count. Garrison got the proverbial monkey off his back, finally scoring his first goal of the season and first point as a Canuck a slapshot from the left point. He said afterwards his teammates kept the puck for him, "For me, it's just nice to get the first one out of the way."

The Canucks then jumped out to the dreaded 2-0 lead late in the second period. Maxim Lapierre pulled away on a partial two-on-one and fired a low shot five-hole past goalie Semyon Varlamov for his first of the year.

"I got lucky, just shoot on net and good things happen," Lapierre said.

Early in the second, with Vancouver on the power play, Luongo made a key save on a Matt Duchene shorthanded breakaway. Not long after, the hosts finally put the nail in the coffin with 11:42 left in regulation.

On the man advantage nonetheless, defenceman Dan Hamhuis found Kassian with a slap-pass in front of the net to give the second-year winger his fifth goal in six games. The big forward also finished with three hits.

Vancouver ended the game one-for-five on the power play, snapping an 0-for-15 drought dating back to last Friday's win against Anaheim.

This coming Friday, the Canucks host the league-leading Blackhawks, who suffered their first loss of the season Wednesday, 3-2 in a shootout, to the Minnesota Wild.

"We know it'll be a good test," Lapierre said. "We'll have to play the same way we did tonight with the energy and passion."

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