PIC OF THE GAME
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) – The biggest plot line this side of Heroes fizzled on the shoulders of Roberto Luongo Tuesday night at The Garage.
Luongo made 15 of his 26 saves in the first period on his way to recording a second consecutive shutout as Vancouver avenged their second-round loss to Anaheim in last year's Stanley Cup playoffs.
Ryan Kesler scored twice and Markus Naslund and Matt Cooke added singles for the Canucks who overcame a slow start scoring twice in the second and third periods in a 4-0 victory.
The win spoiled the return of former Canuck Todd Bertuzzi, who played his first regular season game in Vancouver since being traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Luongo back in 2006.
As he did during the Ducks' five-game win in the second round of the postseason, Luongo starred for the Canucks. But unlike that series, the Canucks found a way to solve Giguere on this night.
The Canucks were outshot 15-5 in the opening period and Luongo kept the game scoreless by making a handful of highlight-reel saves, including forcing Bertuzzi to shoot wide on a breakaway late in the opening frame.
“They were firing everything at the net but I was able to challenge the shooter every time,” said Luongo. “Luckily there were no back door plays and stuff like that and no rebounds, so it makes me much more comfortable knowing that I can focus on the shooter in those instances.”
Naslund opened the scoring 3:2O into the period with a perfect wrist shot off the post and in over Giguere's glove. Kesler doubled the lead just 10 seconds into a 5-on-3 power play, shoveling a rebound under the Ducks goalie. He took a cross check in the ribs from Chris Pronger that only seemed to ignite the Vancouver bench.
Made 26 saves on his way to his second consecutive shutout.
Scored two goals on the power-play and led all skaters with six shots .
Assisted on two goals and finished with a +2 rating. Led the team with three blocked shots and four hits.
Before the crowd eased up on Pronger, the Canucks scored again.
Matt Cooke deflected an Alexander Edler shot four minutes later and Kesler added his second on a power-play breakaway five minutes into the third period to up his season total to seven goals, three shy of his career best.
“I feel pretty confident out there with the puck and I think it’s just going to continue to grow…I’ve known it was there, it was just a matter of time before it came out and I think you’re just starting to see it,” said Kesler.
Giguere was hooked midway through the third giving way to rookie Jonas Hiller, who finished with six saves, plus a penalty shot stop against Henrik Sedin with 49.4 seconds left in the game.
Hank tried an elaborate deke on rough ice that finished with him cutting across the crease and attempting to drag the puck behind Hiller’s trailing pad with one hand.
As string as Hiller was in relief of Giguere, there was nothing he could do about the performance at the other end.
Luongo, who has 35 career shutouts to his name, was spectacular.
Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle wasn’t quite as effusive about Luongo’s performance, but credited the Canucks for their resilience all the same.
“We had some decent chances but we didn’t make some adjustments. He [Luongo] was over-challenging on a lot of situations where there was lots of net behind him and we didn’t make the proper choices. But you’ve got to give the opposition credit, they played their game to a T and we didn’t play ours.”
Bertuzzi was a minus-two in just under 13 minutes of ice time with three missed shots.
“He was like the rest of our team,” said Carlyle. “I thought he had a decent first period but after that he fit in with the mold of our group. We didn’t do very much after that point.”
“I thought we played good in the first,” said Bertuzzi. “We were getting shots through, we were getting into traffic areas, but for some reason going into the second we just backed off and ran into penalty trouble and they ended up getting their goals.”
“You know what, I didn’t think much about it,” said Nalsund, who spent seven seasons with Bertuzzi before the trade. “I think it was probably weirder for him facing a lot of his old teammates than it was for me. It’s different seeing him in another uniform. To me, he always looked the best in a Canuck uniform.”
Notes: Naslund, who also had an assist, has seven goals in seven games. ... Kesler has four goals in four games. ... Bertuzzi, who played eight seasons in Vancouver, received a rousing ovation during a pregame tribute on the arena scoreboard.