For the second consecutive game the Canucks were involved in a low-scoring, tight-checking affair, only Monday against the Florida Panthers they were able to get their first win of the season, a 2-1 decision, thanks to a pair of goals from Daniel Sedin and six points from the top line.
Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner with just over five minutes to play in the third period to break a 1-1 draw; on Stan Smyl night at Rogers Arena, the Canucks channeled the hardworking former forward with a gritty win, despite not hitting their stride.
“We didn’t play our best tonight, took a few too many penalties and we didn’t get going regularly, so we had our chances, we could have scored a few more, but same goes for them,” said Henrik, who now has three assists on the year.
After Daniel Sedin opened the scoring 12:39 into the first period on a scramble play in front of the Florida net where Mikael Samuelsson backhanded the puck in the crease allowing Daniel to chip it in, the Canucks maintained the lead until late in the second period.
With 38 seconds remaining before the second recess, Rostislav Olesz shot a puck into the Vancouver zone that hit Samuelsson and Edler before sneaking past Roberto Luongo.
In the third it was anyone’s game and the Panthers, who remain winless through two games, peppered Luongo with 19 shots in hopes of getting another fluky score. The tender stood his ground allowing Daniel to win the game on another garbage goal from in close on Tomas Vokoun.
“Sammy took a shot and Hank got the rebound and then it was right there, I was lucky, I think he put it in himself,” said Daniel.
Luongo finished with 41 saves, including five on three Florida power plays. Vokoun stopped 33 shots in total.
Vancouver’s offence has yet to heat up with only three goals in two games, but Roberto Luongo is red-hot having given up only three thus far.
Luongo allowed 11 goals in three loses to open last season so getting off to a good start this year was a must for the 31-year-old. His confidence should be sky-high after recording 72 saves on 74 shots from Los Angeles and Florida.
“It’s nice, I’m not going to lie, to get off on the right foot, but that being said, it’s only two games and it’s a long year,” said Luongo. “You want to be consistent as much as possible and there’s always going to be ups and downs, but you want to stay as consistent as possible.”
Luongo has been working with new Canucks goalie coach Roland Melanson for a few months now and while the two have only made minor tweaks to Lui’s game, they seem to be paying off.
“So far I’ve been feeling really good and I just want to keep building on what I’ve started here since training camp,” added Luongo.
Through two games Luongo is fourth in the NHL in save percentage at .973%.
Nine players, four Canucks and five Panthers, were facing their former team on the night.
For Vancouver, Keith Ballard was playing Florida for the first time since coming to the Canucks this summer. Ballard played 164 games for the Panthers over two seasons picking up 62 points and although his time in Florida was meaningful, facing his old mates wasn’t.
“It was just one of those things, we needed a win that‘s how I looked at it,” said Ballard. “It wasn’t anything other than trying to get a win at home and when it was over and we won, I caught up with a few of the guy, but leading up to it there’s was nothing other than just trying to get a win.”
Former Florida keeper Roberto Luongo never has a problem facing his old squad, which he’s now done five times since leaving Florida after the 2005-06 season. Including Monday night’s win, Luongo is now 4-0-1 vs. the Panthers with only nine goals against; Florida remains the only NHL team that hasn’t beat Luongo in regulation.
Tanner Glass and Mikael Samuelsson also both played in the Sunshine State; Glass recorded his first NHL goal as a Panther and Samuelsson broke his jaw and hand in Florida, but unfortunately no records in one injury plagued season.
Panthers Steve Bernier and Darcy Hordichuk both played the Canucks for the first time since calling Vancouver home and being on the other side of the cheers was a different experience for the pair.
Hordichuk, who came into the game one minor penalty away from 1,000 penalty minutes, was hoping to hear a chorus of boos after dropping the gloves, yet it never materialized.
“I tweaked my knee about the third shift in and had to get it taped up, my ACL there I tweaked it, so I wasn’t too excited about fighting tonight with that,” said Hordichuk.
Bryan Allen, Bryan McCabe and Mike Weaver, all previous Canucks, were also in the line-up for the Panthers. Of the three, McCabe enjoyed the most success with 33 points for Vancouver from 1997-99.
The Canucks are now 6-1-5 at home lifetime against the Panthers with Florida’s lone win coming in its first ever visit to Vancouver in March of 1994; dating back to last season, Henrik Sedin has a point in eight straight home games; 40 years ago on the night Vancouver picked up its first NHL win, a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.