Luongo impenetrable again as Canucks edge Coyotes

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) — Ilya Bryzgalov nearly
was flawless for the Phoenix Coyotes. Luckily for the Vancouver
Canucks, Roberto Luongo was perfect.

Luongo made 28 saves in posting his second consecutive shutout
and defenseman Kevin Bieksa scored the lone goal as the Canucks
on Thursday skated to a 1-0 triumph over the Coyotes.

Luongo turned aside nine shots in each of the first two periods
and 10 in the third en route to his league-leading fourth
shutout of the season and 42nd career. The captain also blanked
Nashville on Tuesday.

“The guys have been doing a great job, and it helps me a lot,”
Luongo said. “If we can help each other out on the ice like
that, we get results.”

“He’s been playing great,” Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler said. “He
has really been playing like our captain, and he’s really
playing like the best goaltender in the league. It’s a
testament to how good he is and how good he can be.”

Luongo’s performance even drew praise from the Coyotes.

“I’m his greatest fan,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. “As a
player, you think he’s unbelievable. But at the same time, we
didn’t overly test him tonight. He made 28 saves, that’s great.
But if you’re going to beat him, you’re going to get a lot of
better opportunities than we got. Obviously, we had a couple of
good ones and he came up with big saves.”

“We tried, we tried hard,” Bryzgalov said. “There were some
times where Luongo played well and their defensemen cleared the
puck from the slot. Maybe we didn’t create enough, I don’t

It was the 15th shutout as a member of the Canucks for Luongo,
moving him past Dan Cloutier for second place on the franchise
list. Kirk McLean is Vancouver’s all-time leader with 20

“It’s a number of things,” Luongo said of the reasons for his
scoreless streak of 141 minutes, 8 seconds. “I feel good and
the guys have been playing well in front of me. We’re getting
some good bounces our way.”

Bieksa gave Luongo all the support he needed midway through the
first period, receiving a cross-slot pass from the left faceoff
circle by Kesler and firing the puck past Bryzgalov at 11:56 for
his third goal of the season.

“I didn’t really have to do a whole lot,” Bieksa said. “I
jumped up on the play and (there was) great board work by
(Darcy) Hordichuk there. He wants the credit for that, so I’ll
give it to him. Then Kesler and Burrows made a great play and I
had an empty net, so I’ll take those.”

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“I thought his game tonight was solid, except for the first
blocked shot that led to their breakaway,” Canucks coach Alain
Vigneault said of Bieksa. “Besides that, his overall game
defensively is very physical, and offensively, he’s making the
right decisions.”

Alex Burrows also picked up an assist on the play for Vancouver,
which improved to 2-1-0 on its six-game homestand.

“I think we could have gotten a few more (goals), but Bryzgalov
was on top of his game, too,” Burrows said. “He made some nice

“We had some good moments and some good opportunities to put the
game away, but we met a solid goaltender, just like they met a
solid goaltender,” Vigneault said. “Their goaltender played
well, and when we needed ours to make the right saves for us, he
did. It was a hard-fought game by both teams.”

Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Coyotes, who had won two of

“Our goaltender was solid,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said.
“He had a really good game.”

“Bryz matched (Luongo’s) effort,” Coyotes defenseman Ed
Jovanovski added. “He was our best player tonight, for sure.”

Winners of three of their previous four games, the Canucks
nearly fell behind while on a power play early in the first
period. But after blocking a shot by Bieksa, Garth Murray was
denied by Luongo on a partial breakaway as the blue-liner
harassed him from behind.

Mason Raymond hit the goalpost during the same man advantage,
keeping the game scoreless. He had a glorious chance to give
Vancouver a 2-0 bulge 5 1/2 minutes into the second period but
was robbed from point-blank range by Bryzgalov, who snagged his
shot from alone on the right side with his glove.

“It just reached my pad and glove, and he put it right in my
glove,” Bryzgalov said.

“(Bryzgalov) played unreal,” Doan said. “He made a couple of
huge saves to give us every chance.”

Phoenix did not register its first shot of the middle period
until Doan unleashed a wrister during a power play with 6:08 to

“It was pretty tight tonight,” Bieksa said. “We didn’t give up
a whole lot of chances, and (Luongo) made the saves he had to.
We kept it on the outside, for the most part, and limited their

Vancouver failed miserably on the power play, going scoreless on
seven opportunities.

“I think our power play could have put this game out of reach,”
Vigneault said. “It had some good chances, it had some tap-in
possibilities that we just couldn’t finish for whatever reason.”