CALGARY – Roberto Luongo was 32 seconds away from putting a miserable October behind him and starting November off perfect.
Luongo made 28 saves and had his shutout bid spoiled in the last minute of play as the Vancouver Canucks routed the Calgary Flames 5-1 on Tuesday.
Defenceman Alex Edler scored once and added two assists while Chris Higgins, Alexandre Burrows, Daniel Sedin and Cody Hodgson also scored for Vancouver (6-5-1), which kicked off a six-game road trip.
“It’s nice to get a big win here to start off this road trip,”said Luongo, who was coming off a month in which he went 3-3-1 with a 3.54 goals-against average and a meagre .869 save percentage.
At the start of the game, you could hear mocking chants of“Lou”from the Scotiabank Saddledome crowd. By the second period, however, it was only legitimate“Lou”calls from the many Canucks fans in the crowd, despite Alex Tanguay scoring the lone goal for Calgary (4-5-1) at 19:28.
“He’s one of the best goalies in the League,”said Edler.“It’s unfortunate about that last goal, but we know he’s good and that makes us feel comfortable playing in front of him.”
Edler is up to12 points on the season, which ranks him third amongst NHL defencemen, one point behind co-leaders Erik Karlsson from Ottawa and Tampa Bay’s Marc-Andre Bergeron.
“We said all along that we think Alex is a premiere defenceman in this league,”Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault said.“He’s got the skill level and physical frame to be one of the best defenceman in the league and he’s getting an opportunity.“
Edler’s assists came in the first period as the visitors silenced the Saddledome crowd by scoring a pair of power-play goals in the final seven minutes to open up a 3-0 lead.
After Higgins scored his team-leading sixth goal on a breakaway at 7:57, the Canucks made it 2-0 on the power play when Burrows swiped the puck in while sitting near the crease. The goal came at the end of a power play after Calgary successfully killed off a 1:36 two-man advantage in which Burrows put a shot off the goal post.
Vancouver got another power play in the final minute of the period and needed just 14 seconds to convert, as Daniel Sedin scored at 19:41 after being set up by brother Henrik.
Iginla was frank when asked afterwards if he saw any positives.
“Right now, I don’t see a ton,”said the Flames captain.“We’ve been getting better. Unfortunately, tonight was a big letdown for us. I know it was for our fans too.”
Despite getting outshot 12-4 in the second period, Vancouver scored the only two goals to blow open the game.
“When you look up at the scoreboard and it’s 5-0 after the second period, it’s embarrassing,”said Flames centre Brendan Morrison.“As a player you have to find a way to keep going and take pride in your job and never quit at all.”
Kiprusoff was pulled after two periods and replaced by Henrik Karlsson. Kiprusoff had 13 saves on 18 shots while Karlsson finished with three saves.
Vancouver improves to 10-0-2 against the Flames since last losing in regulation to Calgary on Oct. 16, 2009. That includes five straight victories in Calgary by a combined score of 24-9.
“A lot of games in here, we’ve been able to get out to early leads and it’s nice to have that little bit of a cushion,”said Luongo, who improves his career mark against Calgary to 21-10-3.
It was another unimpressive night for the Flames top line of Morrison, Jarome Iginla and Tanguay, who through the season’s first 10 games have yet to get on track.
Tanguay’s goal was his second of the year, Iginla only has two goals and four points, and Morrison has no points in six games.
It was the finale of a season-long six-game homestand for Calgary. The Flames finished 3-2-1 and now head out on a three-game road trip that begins Thursday night in Detroit.
Notes: Morrison won just four of 16 draws after entering the night second in the NHL in face-off percentage (61.4%)…It was Sedin’s 254th career goal, tying himwith Pavel Bure for fourth on the Canucks all-time list…Calgary C Matt Stajan was back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous two games…. Calgary LW Curtis Glencross played in career game No. 300…The Flames began a stretch of seven games in 12 nights…. The Flames have given Vancouver also has a six-game road trip Feb. 19-28.