Game 70: The Nick of time
Rookie forward Nicklas Jensen tallied his second goal in as many games, and notched the game-deciding goal in a shootout, to lift the Canucks to a 4-3 shootout victory over the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on Sunday afternoon.
After picking up his first career NHL goal just two nights ago in Washington, Jensen helped the Canucks salvage a victory after they appeared destined to squander yet another much-needed win by being the lone skater to beat Roberto Luongo in the shootout allowing Vancouver to improve to 2-1-0 on their current four-game road trip.
Alex Burrows chipped in with a goal and two helpers, while Dan Hamhuis also scored for the Canucks. Jimmy Hayes led the Panthers with two goals while Vincent Trocheck also tallied for the home side.
The main focus heading into Sunday's tilt was Roberto Luongo facing the Canucks for the first time since being dealt back to the Panthers on March 4 but that storyline quickly faded to the background as the game went along.
Luongo got off to a strong start with the Canucks peppering his net early on and allowed his new team to get on the board first when Hayes tallied his first of two power play goals on the night at 16:28 of the opening period.
Vancouver would respond quickly, however, with Hamhuis and Jensen scoring 53 seconds apart in the final three minutes of the opening frame to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead.
After Trocheck pulled the Panthers back to even terms at 4:19 of the third period, Burrows would help the Canucks' reclaim their lead just 75 seconds later on a Vancouver power play poking a puck past Luongo after the ex-Canuck netminder had just stopped a point blast by Alex Edler.
Hayes would equalize for the Panthers for a second time with 1:35 remaining in regulation ultimately setting the stage for Jensen's heroics.
Luongo finished the night with 29 saves on 32 shots. His former understudy, Eddie Lack, stopped 26 of 29 shots in the victory.
The Canucks close out their four-game road trip tomorrow night when the take on Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning.
NOTES AND NUMBERS: Alex Burrows' three-point effort was his first three-point game since Game 2 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. It was his first three-point regular season effort since December 23, 2010 against Columbus... David Booth had a game-high 10 hits... The Panthers had their two-game win streak against the Canucks snapped... Florida's Dmitry Kulikov appeared in his 300th career NHL game.
15 WILL WAIT: Sunday's loss meant Roberto Luongo, in addition to still not having a career victory against the Canucks, will remain stuck for the time being at 369 career victories. Had he won on Sunday, he would have moved into sole possession of 15th place on the all-time wins list past Tom Barrasso. Luongo can realistically finish this season as high as 13th on the all-time wins list. He needs three wins to tie Andy Moog (372 wins) for 14th place and is five victories away from tying John Vanbiesbrouck (374 wins) who currently occupies 13th place on the all-time list.
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: The Canucks' lineup on Sunday featured five players who were once Panthers with three of them making a return to the spot where their respective NHL careers began (four if you include goalie Jacob Markstrom who did not see game action). In addition to Shawn Matthias playing for the first time since the big Luongo trade, also playing their first game in Florida since joining the Canucks were David Booth and Jason Garrison.