VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks may be wondering when the goals will come, but Daniel Sedin gave them all the offence they needed Monday night.
Sedin converted a pair of close-in chances to spark Vancouver to a 2-1 victory over the hard-working Florida Panthers.
The Canucks led the Western Conference with 272 goals last season but have only three after opening their 40th NHL campaign Saturday with a 2-1 shootout loss.
“We’ve got a few new guys, (we’re) a little bit nervous, maybe gripping our stick too tight,” Sedin said after securing the victory with only 5:08 remaining in the third period.
“We need to relax and play our game.”
Even though his line produced both goals, centre Henrik Sedin said the trio that also includes twin brother Daniel and right-winger Mikael Samuelsson, should have done more.
“It was average at best, I think,” he said of their performance. “We didn’t make the plays we wanted to, a little bit too many turnovers but we scored twice which is what we need to do.”
Daniel Sedin gave Vancouver a 1-0 first-period lead after an offensive zone face-off win.
Samuelsson drifted a shot toward Tomas Vokoun and when he failed to control the rebound Sedin pounced on the puck and backhanded it over the goalie.
Sedin, who scored 29 goals last season despite missing 19 games, dived across Vokoun’s crease to nudge in the winner after his twin brother swatted at it during a goalmouth scramble.
“(Samuelsson) took a shot and Hank (Henrik) took the rebound,” Daniel said. “It was right there but I think he (Vokoun) put it in himself.”
Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo, who’s known for slow starts to begin the season, was sharp for the second straight game.
He made 41 saves in an effort where the only puck to get behind him deflected in off the skate of teammate Alex Edler.
The goal was credited to Rostislav Olesz who also shot wide in the third period with Luongo scrambling to get back in position after giving the puck away during a clearing attempt.
Luongo denied the close-in chances of Marty Reasoner and Cory Stillman in the first period. In the third, he got across his crease to foil Shawn Matthias on a second rebound.
“I made the first save with the blocker and another one with the paddle,” Luongo said of the third-period flurry.
“I think there was another guy there for the rebound and I just extended (my leg) and was able to get my skate on it.”
Luongo has allowed only three goals while making 72 saves in two starts.
“He looked real smooth and confident in there, challenging at the right time,” said coach Alain Vigneault.
“He was in control and he was the goaltender that we know he can be. He’s giving us a chance to win.”
Florida coach Peter DeBoer said it was an accomplishment to hold the Canucks to two goals, but the Panthers couldn’t respond and were thwarted by Luongo.
“You should be able to come out with points in that situation,” DeBoer said. “Unfortunately, despite a bunch of chances, Luongo, I thought, had all the answers.”
While the Canucks got their first win of the young season, the Panthers suffered their second straight road loss after dropping a 3-2 decision Sunday in Edmonton.
David Booth, who was limited to 28 games last season because of two concussions, said the Panthers have to convert opportunities in the crease area.
“Just like in Edmonton, tonight their goals came right around the crease,” said Booth. “That’s where we have to get goals.”
Bryan Allen, one of five former Canucks playing for Florida, said his club must be tougher on offensive rebounds.
“Obviously, when we get 40 shots on net, we;ve got to find some way to score some goals,” he said. “It’s not good enough just to say we’re closing in.”
Notes:It was the only meeting of the season between the two clubs. … Jeff Tambellini took the fourth-line spot of Canuck Alex Bolduc, out with an ankle injury. … Vancouver defenceman Keith Ballard signed a six-year contract extension with Florida in 2008. … Panthers GM Dale Tallon was drafted by the expansion Canucks 40 years ago after Buffalo won a wheel spin to select Gilbert Perreault first overall.