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Luongo, Canucks shut out struggling Sabres

by Joe Yerdon /
BUFFALO - Roberto Luongo's 63rd career shutout wasn't one of his toughest.

Luongo stopped 25 shots and the Vancouver Canucks beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Thursday night.

"He made some big saves on a power play to keep it out," Canucks coach John Tortorella said. "I don't think he was terribly busy, but that's a hard game for him and he made some big saves at key times for us."

Chris Higgins, Brad Richardson and Ryan Stanton scored for Vancouver, which has won the first two games of a seven-game road trip that continues with a visit to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon. Mike Santorelli assisted on the Canucks' first two goals.

The shutout was Luongo's first of the season. His career total is second among active goaltenders to Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils.

"It was a great start by us. We came out flying," Luongo said. "[Buffalo goaltender Ryan] Miller really kept them in the game in the first period or else the game would've been over. We got one in the first, but we kept at it in the second and we scored a huge shorthanded goal there."

Miller stopped 31 shots for the Sabres, who fell to 1-7-1. Buffalo has scored more than two goals just once in its nine games -- the Sabres got their only win by beating the New York Islanders 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.

Higgins opened the scoring at 14:53 of the first period after turnovers by Buffalo defenseman Henrik Tallinder and forward Cody McCormick. McCormick batted a puck loose in the slot right onto Higgins' stick, and he snapped it past Miller.

"It was a bit of a gift," Higgins said. "I guess with the way things were going I guess it was a different move."

Richardson's shorthanded goal at 11:05 of the second period made it 2-0. Jason Garrison fired a shot on goal that Miller stopped, but the rebound went off a pressing Richardson and bounced past Miller.

Buffalo's Thomas Vanek thought he made the score 2-1 in the opening minute of the third period, but after a review of the play, his shot was riled to have gone off the crossbar and the far post but not into the net.

"I thought it was in," Luongo admitted. "I was kind of cheating a little bit there. I thought he was going to bring it to his backhand. That one I probably deserved to get scored on but it all evens out at the end of the year. We got a couple bad breaks early in the year and this one had a couple good breaks in the third."

Stanton scored off a scramble midway through the final period for his first NHL goal.

"Being out there with two superstar NHLers like that [Daniel and Henrik Sedin] who are so good and I was just lucky enough to be in the slot there," Stanton said. "They got me the puck and made a pretty good shot and got a goal."

The frustration is mounting in Buffalo, which has managed three points in nine games.

"It's high. It's no fun," Vanek said about the team's frustration level. "Every guy in here trains all summer long to be successful. To have the record we have is disappointing."

The Sabres have given up the first goal of the game in eight of their nine games and have held the lead for a total of 7:09 this season, all of that coming in an overtime loss to Tampa Bay on October 8.

"Frustration is how they do it," coach Ron Rolston said of his team. "If they don't play the right way, they're creating their own frustration. They got to figure that out."

Buffalo hosts the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. Colorado is coming off a 4-2 loss at home to the Detroit Red Wings, its first in seven games this season.

"We've got to keep working hard," Vanek said. "There's no one up for the minors or anyone that's going to come up to give us a boost. I think this is our team to go with. We've just got to find a way to have one, two, three lines to generate chances and start scoring some goals."
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