Roberto Luongo has been nearly unbeatable for the Vancouver Canucks in November. The New York Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist has been sharp and steady all season.
In what could be a matchup of All-Star starters, Luongo and the Canucks will square off against Lundqvist and the Rangers on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Luongo has an NHL-leading five shutouts, with three coming in consecutive games this month. Lundqvist tops the league with 12 wins, is third with a 1.92 goals-against average and has helped the Rangers move to the top of the Eastern Conference.
A 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders on Monday dropped Luongo to 10-5-2 with a 2.14 GAA on the season, but his numbers have been stellar this month. In seven starts, he's gone 4-1-2 with a 0.98 GAA and didn't allow a goal for more than 11 periods as part of a franchise-record shutout string spanning more than 242 minutes.
"All losses are tough," said Luongo, who made 34 saves Monday against the team that drafted him fourth overall in 1997. "Shootouts are great when you win, and (not) when you lose. I don't like losing any game."
He faced the Rangers on Jan. 3 in Vancouver and turned aside 28 shots in a 3-0 win. Continuing his red-hot play might not be easy to do Wednesday, however, as Luongo has lost his last four starts at MSG to fall to 2-7-0 with a 3.37 GAA in nine career games there.
The Canucks, though, have won five of their last seven road games against the Rangers and 10 of 13 overall.
Pavol Demitra scored in the opening minute against the Islanders, but that was all the Canucks (10-6-2) could get past Joey MacDonald. Vancouver has scored nine goals in Luongo's seven losses.
Lundqvist has not faced Vancouver since his rookie season. He finished with 28 saves but gave up two third-period goals in a 3-2 home loss to the Canucks on Dec. 13, 2005.
The Rangers are coming off their second straight shootout win and third victory in a row overall, 2-1 over visiting Ottawa on Monday. Lundqvist denied all three Senators shooters after Nikolai Zherdev had the lone goal.
"We were fired up, and we were going to have this win, no matter what," said Fredrik Sjostrom, who tied the score for the Rangers in the third period. "Everybody excelled and played hard tonight."
The Rangers' 21-game start (14-5-2) is identical to the one in 1993-94, when they went on to beat Vancouver in seven games and end a 54-year Stanley Cup drought.
This game will also be the first against the Canucks for Rangers forward Markus Naslund since leaving Vancouver during the offseason to sign with New York. Naslund spent 12 seasons with the Canucks, the last seven as captain, and recorded 352 goals and 418 assists while posting three 40-goal seasons.
Naslund is tied for second on the Rangers with six goals and 14 points.