VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) -The more players the Vancouver Canucks lose to injury, the better star goalie Roberto Luongo seems to get.
Luongo made 27 saves for his first shutout of the season to lead the injury-riddled Canucks to a 2-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday night. One night earlier, he stopped 35 shots in a win over Toronto.
"Sometimes you need to be challenged a little bit to step up as a team and I think we've done that," said Luongo, who took over the franchise lead with his 21st shutout in just over three seasons in Vancouver. "It seems like we're losing a player every game right now, but guys are coming in, doing a great job and buying into the system and that's why we're winning games."
One of the guys stepping up is Michael Grabner, who opened the scoring with a power-play deflection late in the first period, giving the rookie two goals and five points in his first six NHL games. Henrik Sedin also scored on a tip as the Canucks won three straight games for the first time this season.
Luongo did the rest, continuing to show he is over his annual early season slump. Despite coming into the game with an uncharacteristically low .894 save-percentage, Luongo has now allowed just six goals in his last five games. His recent run coincides with a run of injuries that has seen Vancouver lose six players, including top scorer Daniel Sedin and top defenseman Sami Salo.
Luongo credits a renewed commitment to team defense since the injuries.
"We're really starting to play well systems-wise and defensively," Luongo said. "It makes my job a lot easier and I am able to focus on the shooter more and just challenge him and not worry about any of the backdoor stuff."
Both teams were playing for a second straight night and missing six regulars to injury and illness, leading to a sloppy game with little flow.
Nikolai Khabibulin, who was brilliant in a 2-1 win over the Canucks six days earlier, got a rare game off after stopping 33 shots in a 5-2 loss in Calgary the night before. Jeff Deslauriers made 27 saves in just his second start as the Oilers lost consecutive games for the first time this season.
"The past two days haven't been pretty," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "I don't like the result for sure. It was kind of a sleeper game ... we didn't play good enough to get a good result."
Luongo, who has started all 11 games for the Canucks, had to be sharp early as the Oilers got a lengthy 5-on-3 power play less than 8 minutes into the game. He got a glove on Patrick O'Sullivan's early blast from the high slot, stopped Shawn Horcoff on the rebound, and later slid across to take an empty net away from Dustin Penner on a nice cross-crease pass from Ales Hemsky.
"We didn't take it into the scoring areas," Quinn said. "We played on the outside tonight and when you play on the outside of this game you get these kind of results."
Grabner, who had two assists in Saturday's win, opened the scoring with 2:09 left in the first period, parking himself atop the crease and neatly redirecting Christian Ehrhoff's one-timer from the point through Deslaurier's legs.
Grabner, the 14th pick in the 2006 NHL Draft, has been a revelation since being recalled from the minors after Daniel Sedin broke his foot.
"There's not as much pressure and it's easier to play now and just try to show them what I can do," Grabner said.
Henrik Sedin hadn't scored since his twin brother was hurt on Oct. 7, but doubled the lead midway through the second period, knocking Mikael Samuelsson's harmless-looking point shot past a surprised Deslauriers for his first point in four games.
Luongo's 48th career shutout moved into a tie with San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov for third place on the active list, one behind Detroit's Chris Osgood, but 54 back of New Jersey's Martin Brodeur. It also moved him past Kirk McLean for the franchise lead.
"Our goaltender has been our best player the last two games so we re feeding off him a little bit," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. Notes: The Oilers came in with 38 goals in their first 10 games, 17 more than the same period last season. ... Russian rookie Sergei Shirokov was called up from the AHL and played on Vancouver's first line with Henrik Sedin and Samuelsson, with Alex Burrows dropped to the third line. ... Veteran D Mathieu Schneider, 40, made his Canucks debut after starting the season on the injured list following summer shoulder surgery. ... Oilers C Gilbert Brule returned after missing three games with flu, but C Mike Comrie isn't even traveling as he tries to recover from the bug, which has made its way through the team.