Playoffs Open With Record Performance by Canucks' Luongo
|NEW YORK - Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo made a record-setting Stanley Cup playoff debut Wednesday night, stopping 72 of an NHL-record 76 shots and helping the Canucks defeat the Dallas Stars 5-4 in four overtimes in the opener of the teams' Western Conference Quarterfinal.
Luongo faced the most shots in an NHL game since the League started recording the statistic in 1956. The previous mark of 75 was shared by the New York Islanders' Kelly Hrudey, against Washington in the 1987 playoffs, and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Ed Belfour, against Philadelphia in the 2003 postseason. Luongo's 72 saves matched Belfour's total and came within one of Hrudey's NHL-record 73.
The previous top performance among goaltenders making their first playoff start was that of Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who made 63 saves in a 2-1 triple-overtime victory at Detroit on April 10, 2003.
Playing in his seventh NHL season, the most shots Luongo had faced in a game was 60, with the Florida Panthers against the Detroit Red Wings in 3-2 overtime loss Feb. 27, 2002.
"It was probably the most exhausting thing I have ever been a part of -- challenging, physically and mentally," Luongo said. "I was telling the boys that when I was at 60 (shots against) that I faced that in Florida one time but it was just in the regular season. Actually, more time on the ice is what tires you more than anything."
Most Shots Faced By A Goaltender In A Stanley Cup Playoff Game (since 1956)
According to statistics from the League's Real Time Scoring System, Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov led all players in ice time, logging 55:08, followed by Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa (54:27). The game began at 7:11 p.m., Vancouver time, and ended at 12:32 a.m., or five hours, 21 minutes elapsed time.
"We had a lot of guys that were playing their first playoff game in the NHL. It was a great experience for them," said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. "We played a couple of games so they got two games under their belt."
Defensemen Mattias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell and Bieksa combined for 22 of the Canucks' 33 blocked shots with nine, seven and six, respectively. Nine Stars players recorded five shots or more, including captain Brenden Morrow with a team-high eight, and Mike Modano, Stu Barnes and Darryl Sydor with seven each. The game featured 132 shots (Dallas 76, Vancouver 56).
Playing in his first season with the Canucks, Luongo turned in the top goaltending campaign in franchise history. The 28-year-old Montreal native posted a 47-22-6 record with a 2.29 goals-against average, .921 save percentage and five shutouts in 76 games. He easily set the franchise single-season record for victories, passing Kirk McLean's 38 in 1991-92, and eclipsed Gary Smith's mark of 72 appearances in 1974-75.
Luongo's 47 victories is the second-highest single-season total in NHL history. It is topped only by New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur's NHL-record 48 this season and is equal to the previous mark set by Philadelphia's Bernie Parent in 1973-74.