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Luongo, Canucks blank Blues 3-0

by Staff

Derek Jory | Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- And the St. Louis Blues thought Roberto Luongo looked good in Game 1.

The Canucks captain was as masterful as he's been all season in Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal against the St. Louis Blues, stopping all 30 shots he faced in a 3-0 Vancouver win on Friday night.

Vancouver leads the best-of-7 series 2-0 -- largely because Luongo has allowed just one goal in two games.

"Sick" is how Canucks forward Alex Burrows, who scored Vancouver's second goal, describe Luongo's play.

"I think unbelievable, so many great saves, especially in the first and second, really kept us in," he said.

After stopping seven shots in the opening period, Luongo made nine saves in the second -- including a pair that sent the towel-waving sellout crowd of 18,630 at G.M. Place into a frenzy.

On a St. Louis power play with just over nine minutes to play, Brad Boyes threw a puck on goal that Andy McDonald got his stick on. Luongo got his left pad down in the nick of time, but he couldn't control the rebound as it popped out to David Backes. But Backes' one-timer from just outside the goalmouth was just another brick in Luongo's wall.

Luongo had 16 saves through 40 minutes and made another 14 in the third period. None was bigger than another power play stop on McDonald, this time from point-blank range.

The Vancouver netminder was clearly in the zone, his happy place if you will, and that's when Luongo is at his best.

"You definitely feel like you see the puck more, and sometimes you don't see it and it hits you," Luongo said. "When things are going like that you just try to take advantage as much as you can."

For their part, the Blues said they made it too easy on Luongo by not creating enough traffic in front.

"We don't have someone taking his eyes away -- and he's one of the best, if not the best in the world," said Backes, who had five shots. "We need to take his vision away and he can't stop what he can't see and that helps a tone."

Added Keith Tkachuk: "We've got to find a way to compete a little bit harder in front of the net on our second and third chances and get around him where he can't have any sight of the puck."

This game was scoreless for the first 38 minutes until Mats Sundin opened the scoring for Vancouver with 1:56 left in the middle period. Burrows added a goal midway through the third period, and Henrik Sedin hit the empty net.

Though he gave up two goals for the second game in a row, Chris Mason 26-save performance was good enough to win on most nights. This wasn't one of them.

"[Luongo's] doing what he's supposed to do, and our goalie is doing the same thing," Tkachuk said. "Our goalie is getting the job done for us and we can't score any goals right now."

This series now shifts to St. Louis for Games 3 and 4. The Scottrade Center will be jammed for the Blues first home playoff games since 2004.

"We played better (than in Game 1), but we weren't good enough," coach Andy Murray said. "To beat a team like this, you have to be very good. Good is just not good enough. We need to be very good, and we weren't.

"We need to be better, and we plan to be in St. Louis."

Returning to familiar surroundings should help the Blues forget the opening two games of this series. Whether it will make a difference on the scoreboard is another question -- Luongo has three shutouts in his last four starts, including the last two games of the regular season, and he's allowed just two goals in his last five games.

"The last four or five games, he's been in the zone," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "He found his 'A' game, and that's what we need."


Midway through the opening period Vancouver’s third line went on a tear that saw them outwork St. Louis for a minute and a half. The Canucks forechecked hard and generated two shots on goal.

Mats Sundin has been called out by everyone but his mom for his subpar play of late, but he silenced his critics by scoring the game-winning goal for Vancouver, his 36th career playoff tally.

The decibel level in GM Place peaked at 103 when the Canucks hit the ice to start the second period. That’s eight decibels higher than the level at which prolonged exposure can cause hearing loss.

St. Louis and Vancouver exchanged 33 shots before either team scored. On Vancouver’s 18th shot Sundin finally beat Blues goalie Chris Mason.

Vancouver’s fourth line of Ryan Johnson, Darcy Hordichuk and Rick Rypien was first on the ice for the second consecutive game and they once again set the tone for a physical contest with each landing a hit in the first 24 seconds.

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