ATLANTA – With Roberto Luongo making stop after stop, the Vancouver Canucks needed only a brief second-period opening to claim another road victory.
Luongo stopped 30 shots and the Canucks set franchise records for road wins and points in a season, beating the Atlanta Thrashers 3-1 on Friday night.
Mason Raymond and Alexandre Bolduc scored in a span of about seven minutes in the second period for the Canucks, who have won nine of 10 to improve the NHL’s best record. Alexandre Burrows added an empty-net goal with 13 seconds remaining.
“We got a two-goal lead, and (Luongo) took care of the rest,” Raymond said.
The Thrashers came out on the attack early in the second period, but Luongo answered every challenge to give the Canucks the momentum for the goals by Raymond and Bolduc.
Luongo denied Atlanta’s Andrew Ladd at the net just before Bolduc’s goal.
“Obviously, he was the best player on the ice,” Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. “He made some huge saves for us.”
Luongo, playing 10 days before his 32nd birthday, just missed his 55th career shutout but settled for his 305th career win—his NHL-leading 35th of the season.
“He has played this way before,” Vigneault said.
The Canucks earned their franchise-record 24th road win and set another team high with 107 points. They won their seventh straight road game while avoiding a letdown against the Thrashers.
“We did some things we wanted to do,” Raymond said. “We got the franchise record.”
Bryan Little ended Luongo’s shutout bid with an unassisted goal with 5:30 remaining in the third period.
Vancouver is 12 points ahead of second-place Detroit in the Western Conference, but Vigneault said it’s not time to start resting such players as Luongo.
“We’re going to continue our plan to give him 60 starts,” Vigneault said. “When you’re fighting to get into the playoffs, you play your No. 1 goaltender.”
The Thrashers, 11th in the Eastern Conference, suffered another blow to their fading playoff hopes.
Atlanta’s Chris Mason stopped 23 shots but managed to only partially deflect Raymond’s shot early in the second period to snap a scoreless tie. At 12:24 of the period, Bolduc’s shot from the bottom of the right circle sailed just past Mason’s glove into the net to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead.
“The second goal was really a killer,” Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay said.
Added Mason: “We played a great first and third period. We had a 10-minute window in the second that we let this one slip away.”
The Canucks are 35-0-3 when leading after two periods. Little gave Atlanta hope in the third final period when he broke free down the centre of the ice and pushed the puck just past Luongo’s reach.
Atlanta’s last hope came when Vancouver’s Sami Solo was penalized for tripping with 16.2 seconds remaining. The Thrashers had no chance to take advantage of their two-man advantage when Burrows cleared the puck into the empty net.
Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin, the NHL’s leader with 95 points, had his scoring streak end at nine games.
The Canucks’ previous high was 23 road wins in the 2002-03 and 2006-07 seasons. Their previous team record for points in a season was 105 in 2006-07.
The Thrashers lead the league with only one shutout loss.
NOTES: Mason started for the second straight night after making 14 saves in a 2-1 win at the New York Islanders. … Mason blocked a penalty shot by Sedin in the first period following a tripping penalty against Ron Hainsey on a breakaway. … Thrashers F Eric Boulton missed his second straight game. He needed 25 stitches after he was hit in his face with a puck in Tuesday’s practice.