The Vancouver Canucks' hard work paid off last night as the team rose to the challenge and defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-0.
The Canucks have struggled to find consistent rhythm this regular season and have spent hours in practice working on special teams, speed, and offence.
Last night's game featured memorable performances from Daniel and Henrik Sedin
, who combined for four points, and Mason Raymond
who utilized his speed to jump on the puck and put his team ahead 2-0 heading into the second period.
Kyle Wellwood and Taylor Pyatt also scored, while Roberto Luongo
held his ground, making 28 saves for his 40th career shut out. Pyatt deflected a Willie Mitchell shot past the Kings' goaltender Jason LaBarbera for his second of the regular season.
"I was feeling stressed out about it lately," said Pyatt. "It's a lot of weight off my shoulders."
The Canucks are 6-for-15 on the power play over the past three games, after starting the season in single-digit percentages when it came to converting with the man advantage. Their penalty kill was 6-for-6 and the players looked decidedly more relaxed than they did on their recent six game road trip.FLYING DUCKS
The Canucks are hoping to carry the momentum from their shut out win over to tonight's match up against the Anaheim Ducks.
"We'd like to get on a roll," said Kevin Bieksa
. "We've been up and down, up and down for a while. We'd like to string a couple together and get the confidence going and get that swagger back.
"It was a bit of a tough start [to the season] -- six on the road there. I think we're a better team because of it. Obviously, we didn't come home with the record we wanted to, but it's still early in the season. It's a matter of finding our game now on the road, and I think tonight was a pretty good stepping stone."
The Ducks who opened the regular season with four losses have bounced back and seemingly found their stride with five consecutive wins, the last an overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
The Canucks got off to a better start with two wins over Calgary, before losing four of five road games. The players believe that the road trip highlighted areas of their game that needed to be improved and helped them come together as a team.
"We were starting to put a little too much pressure on ourselves the last road trip," said Luongo. "It was just a matter of settling down. The season is young. There's a lot of hockey to be played, so there was no use squeezing the sticks and putting our heads down.
"We're winners in here. We know we can play better and have a better record. Five hundred hockey is not good enough."
Jason Krog might find his way back into the lineup tonight, although Vigneault may decide to keep gritty forward Mike Brown to match up against the Ducks that ice a fast, tough roster. Luongo is expected to start in net.SUNDIN CATCHES SHUT OUT WIN
Mats Sundin took in the action at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles last night with his agent JP Barry.
The unrestricted free agent watched the Canucks shut out the Kings in a 4-0 victory from a luxury suite and was joined by Canucks GM Mike Gillis. Gillis told the Team 1040
that he did greet Sundin, but prefers not to pressure the former Leafs' captain in his career decisions.
"I've been through this on the other side and I haven't seen one situation where teams have put tremendous pressure on an elite player where that has worked out for them," said Gillis. I think when you get to the status of being considered one of the elite players in the league for a long time, you're entitled to make sure you want to keep playing this game at the highest level before you make a decision.
"We've been in constant contact with JP Barry. We know all the issues. We've been completely apprised of all the issues and until Mats makes up his mind that he's definitely going to play, I don't see any reason in putting pressure on him. I think all it would do is drive him away from a potential opportunity with us and we're determined not to do that."
He noted that while he and Barry discussed the agent's other clients, Canucks' d-man Mattias Ohlund and the Sedins, Sundin enjoyed watching Vancouver play. Sundin is reportedly training in California to get into elite-level shape. OTHER NEWS:
A group of young Roberto Luongo
fans were more than a little excited to drop off a homemade gift for the star goaltender yesterday. Luongo was in Los Angeles for the game against the Kings where he recorded his 40th career shut out.