Luongo will try to set the Canucks’ single-season record for wins by a goaltender while Nabokov will try to better his own franchise mark for the longest shutout streak in Sharks history as the teams square off Friday night at HP Pavilion.
With his 38th win Tuesday in a 5-1 rout of Tampa Bay, Luongo equalled the Canucks’ single-season mark set by Kirk McLean in 1991-92.
“It’s a nice achievement, but honestly I’m happier we won the game and got two points,” Luongo said. “The most important stat is the playoffs and the Stanley Cup.”
Luongo was acquired from Florida in June as part of a blockbuster deal that sent Todd Bertuzzi south, but the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft struggled early with his new club. A loss to lowly Columbus on Dec. 22 dropped Luongo’s record to 17-15-1, but he’s since gone 21-4-3, hasn’t lost consecutive games and has allowed two goals or fewer 18 times.
He stopped only 31 shots in a 6-4 loss to San Jose on Oct. 13, but rebounded Jan. 28 with a 38-save performance in a 3-1 win. Luongo is 1-2-0 all-time in San Jose, but hasn’t played there since 2004.
On Thursday night, Luongo watched backup Dany Sabourin stop 26 shots to lead Vancouver (40-22-5) to a 4-2 win over Phoenix. It was Sabourin’s second win in as many starts since Feb. 20.
The rookie was helped when the Canucks jumped out to a 3-0 first-period lead, led by red-hot Jeff Cowan as he opened the scoring with his sixth goal in four games. He had no goals through 44 contests, 21 of which came with Los Angeles before the Canucks claimed him off waivers Dec. 30.
Thursday’s victory also increased the team’s Northwest Division lead. Vancouver has 85 points – four better than Calgary and Minnesota, which are tied for second place. After this contest, the Canucks play six of their final 14 regular-season games against divisional opponents but has only one game left versus both the Flames and Wild.
“I still think this is going to go to the wire,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said.
Nabokov, meanwhile, is moving closer to a record he established more than four years ago. Since allowing a goal with 6:10 left in the third period of a 3-1 loss at Anaheim on March 2, he’s posted road shutouts over Dallas and Minnesota.
“Discipline was the key to picking up this road win,” Nabokov said after making 26 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and 33rd of his career in a 3-0 win over the Wild on Tuesday.
Nabokov set the Sharks’ record for longest shutout streak by blanking opponents for 145 minutes, 7 seconds from Feb. 19-24, 2003.
The Sharks’ playoff hopes could be in jeopardy unless they start playing better at home. San Jose was 17-8-0 in its first 25 games at HP Pavilion, and hadn’t lost more than two games in a row. In their last seven games there, the Sharks have gone 1-4-2 with two three-game losing streaks.
San Jose leads a crowded bottom half of the Western Conference playoff standings. With 82 points, the Sharks (40-25-2) are in fifth place, one point ahead of Dallas, Calgary and Minnesota – all tied for sixth.