Lundqvist wore the "winning hat" -- given by the Rangers to their top player of the game -- after making 28 of his 40 saves in the first two periods before New York scored four times in the third to beat the Canucks 4-0 at Rogers Arena.
Michael Rupp, Ryan McDonagh, Brian Boyle and Marian Gaborik scored in the final 20 minutes as the Rangers (1-1-2) won for the first time this season -- and the first time in Vancouver since Oct. 11, 1997, when Gretzky's three-goal night led them to a 6-3 win.
"Richie (Brad Richards) gave it to me. He thought I deserved it," Lundqvist said of the hat after single-handedly keeping his team in the game until the offense clicked in the third period.
"I'm wearing it with a lot of pride -- and it looks pretty good too," he added with a smile.
The Canucks, who returned home after going 2-2-0 on a four-game road trip following an opening-night shootout loss, did everything they could have wanted in the first two periods -- except score, thanks to Lundqvist.
"It was intense," said Lundqvist, who blanked the Canucks 1-0 in New York on Jan. 12 in the teams' last meeting. "I felt like I tracked the puck very well. It's been tough not getting any wins in the first couple of games -- we've been close. I kind of took that as motivation going into this game."
Vancouver outshot New York 13-5 in the second and 15-4 in the second. The Canucks earned five power plays to just two for the Rangers through 40 minutes and generated 11 shots with the extra man. All it got them was a scoreless tie thanks to Lundqvist, who was impregnable.
"That was a performance for a lifetime," McDonagh said. "He held in there with all those penalties that we had, was always talking and being positive even though he was being shelled with shots."
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"He played great," said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, who has played with Lundqvist for Team Sweden. "We know what kind of a goaltender he is. He made a lot of key saves. After two periods, we should have been up by one or two goals, but we weren't. That falls on us."
Lundqvist's brilliance gave the Rangers the chance to take the lead at 2:22 of the third period on one of their few rushes. Michael Del Zotto took a pass from Rupp and fired a blast from the top of the left circle that Roberto Luongo stopped with his pad, but Rupp kept going to the net and fired the rebound just under the crossbar for his first point of the season.
"Once we scored a goal, I thought it gave us a little bit of energy, something we'd been lacking," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "Henrik gave us an opportunity and we found a way."
The Canucks kept coming, forcing Lundqvist into a four-save flurry after he robbed Alexander Edler a few seconds after Rupp's goal. He also foiled Bieksa and Keith Ballard a couple of minutes later when both had wide-open chance in front of the net.
"You can't outplay a team more than we did for 50 minutes," defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. "He made a lot of great saves. We had numerous, numerous chances. We're kind of kicking ourselves that we couldn't put one past him."
McDonagh took a lot of the air out of the sellout crowd of 18,860 at 9:57 when he took a give-and-go pass from Brandon Dubinsky and beat Luongo cleanly for his first of the season. Boyle finished off a three-man rush at 11:30 by pumping Ruslan Fedotenko's pass behind Luongo from the left of the slot for his first of the season.
McDonagh then made a great move to set up Gaborik for an easy tap-in with 2:21 remaining.
Luongo finished the night with 15 saves, while the Canucks -- the NHL's top power play last season -- ended the night 0-for-8 with the extra man.
"We had lots of chances," Henrik Sedin said, "but when you don't score on the power play like that, it's going to come back and bite you."