PIC OF THE GAME
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)
-This time a shutout was enough to make a winner out of Roberto Luongo
, but not by much.
Brendan Morrison scored an early power-play goal and Luongo did the rest, making 27 saves to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night.
ended the suspense in a tight third period with an empty-net goal and only 31.7 seconds left as Vancouver improved to 7-1-2 in the last 10 games.
“They [Chicago] worked hard and then they got some good chances in the end, but I thought [Luongo] was patient back there. Like I said, he made some key saves, especially on their last power play there,” said Markus Naslund.
It was Luongo's second shutout of the season, but he took no joy from the first one because it came in 1-0 shootout loss to Edmonton 10 days earlier.
The win is what's most important," Luongo said of his 34th career shutout. "It was a really tight game. It took a solid 60 minutes tonight and even then it came down to the wire."
The Hawks fires 12 pucks on the Canucks goal in the third and enjoyed a late power play when Willie Mitchell was sent off for tripping with only five minutes remaining.
Luongo likely made his best save off Dustin Byfuglien on a 3-on-1 rush eight minutes into the second period, sliding across his crease to get his right pad on the quick shot. He preserved the shutout and the win with a point blank save off a Jonathan Toews power-play chance with 3:47 left.
"I got some good wood on it in close but it wasn't good enough," said Toews.
“They’ve got some skill,” said Luongo. “They’re a very different team than we’ve seen in the past and they work hard every night. We can’t let up against them and that’s why it took a solid sixty minute effort tonight and it came down to the wire.”
Morrison's early goal was good enough against a high-octane Chicago team that lost in a shootout in Edmonton less than 24 hours ago and was playing for the third time in four nights. With former Canuck Brent Sopel off for clearing the puck over the glass, Chicago goalie Patrick Lalime committed to Sami Salo
's point shot. But the Canucks defenseman sent a perfect slap pass to an open Morrison at the right side of the crease instead, leaving Morrison with a wide open net.
"That was a pretty easy one," said Morrison. "They have to respect Sami's shot and he made a great pass. Sami's friendship dues are in the mail."
After losing for the first time in more than three weeks Friday in St. Louis, the Canucks came out flying early. But Lalime, one of several Blackhawks battling a flu bug, was exceptionally sharp in his first start in five games, keeping Chicago in the game with a handful of highlight saves. He finished with 26 saves as Chicago failed to record at least a point for the first time in five games, and just the third time in the last 12 games (7-3-2).
“Our guys had great chances, they just met a hot goaltender,” said Alain Vigneault, whose team finished 1-for-9 on the power play and 29 shots on goal “The guys were moving the puck around fine, and obviously I think their goaltender - because he was on top of his game - might’ve made our guys a little more hesitant in certain situations, but give Lalime credit.”
It didn't help that the Blackhawks were also missing leading goal scorer Patrick Sharp, who returned to Chicago after missing Saturday's game with the flu. Tuomo Ruutu played in Vancouver despite missing Saturday's game with it.
Chicago also lost defenseman James Wisniewski seven minutes into the game when he was knocked face first into the glass by the shoulder of winger Matt Cooke, who wasn't penalized on the play. Wisniewski did not return, but Savard said it was only a deep cut, he was held out as a precaution, and he'd be back soon.
Earned his second shutout of the season stopping 27 pucks.
Played strong in net allowing just one goal - and he had no hope on that one.
Scored the game-winning goal in the first to up his season total to seven.
It was one of many incidents in a game that started with Ryan Kesler
knocking Chicago rookie sensation Patrick Kane into his own bench just 32 seconds in, setting tone for a physical game that featured plenty of action after the whistles and a couple of lively fights.
"I'm really proud of our guys, the fact we re going to battle and teams that want to battle with us, we'll be right there with them," said Savard, whose team wraps up a six-game road trip 2-2-2. "We were challenged early and we responded."
Vancouver had another apparent power play goal waved off 6:17 into the third period because the referee blew the play dead with the puck still loose behind Lalime, but it probably wouldn't have counted anyway as a diving Cooke appeared to shove both the goalie and the puck into the net with his stick.
“He [the official] said the goaltender had control over the puck and that we pushed it in, which when you see the replay, that’s not the case,” said Vigneault. We could’ve had that second goal a little earlier, but found a way to get it done in the end there.”
Luongo stopped Adam Burish whacking away three times alone in front, then had his mask knocked off by the Chicago forward as he was being tackled to the ice by three Canucks, touching off another melee as Byron Ritchie fought Burish.
"We'll kill those penalties off every day," Luongo said.
Salo, who was playing in just his second game since missing eight in a row after taking a puck in the face, logged a team-high 26:21 of ice time and was a plus-one with one assist. “It’s tough to jump back in and play that many minutes right away,” said Morrison. “He was obviously out with the facial injury, and before that he was out for a long time too. It takes a while to get timing, everything down, but he’s been really tough.”
Notes: Canucks D Matias Ohlund returned from a four-game suspension for a slash that broke a bone in the leg of Minnesota's Mikko Koivu. D Lukas Krajicek also returned after missing one game with a sore foot. D Luc Bourdon was sent back to the AHL. Miek Brown was a healthy scratch as Trevor Linden drew back into the line-up and played 14 minutes. The Blackhawks wrapped up a six-game road trip (2-2-2) while a circus occupied the United Center in Chicago.