“It was nice to see,”said winger Taylor Pyatt who got Vancouver’s second power-play goal to fashion a 2-1 victory Saturday night over the Colorado Avalanche.
“We worked it around pretty well and to get two (power-play) goals is big for this team.”
The Canucks were last in the NHL going into the game with only seven power play goals in 65 chances on home ice. But on Saturday night they got traffic in front of the net and the unit of Pyatt, Brendan Morrison and Ryan Kesler moved the puck while Luongo backstopped the victory with a 40-save effort.
“We’ve been trying to do that the last few games, just keep it simple … get the puck in there and try to get some traffic,” said Pyatt, who scored his ninth goal to end a nine-game drought after getting eight goals in his first 18 games.
Both Vancouver goals were close-in chances. Pyatt scored on a tip-in and Daniel Sedin shovelled Sami Salo’s rebound between the pads of goalie Peter Budaj in the second period.
“It gets frustrating after a while, you get the opportunities but you don’t get the bounce around the net,” said Pyatt.
Vancouver moved back to .500 at 13-13-1 and out of the Northwest Division cellar. They are in third place and can move into first with a win here over Edmonton on Monday night.
Colorado is also at .500 at 12-12-2. Only two points separate the five Northwest Division clubs.
John-Michael Liles gave the Avalanche a 1-1 tie early in the third period but he was the only one to beat Luongo who has stopped 82 of 85 shots in the last three games, two of them victories.
“It’s tough when you get a lot of opportunities but you can’t seem to bury them,” said Liles who had to dive across the crease to beat Luongo on the backhand.
Luongo downplayed his effort but he preserved the win in the third period by stopping Joe Sakic who left the penalty box with a breakaway.
“Forty shots on a night like this is something that’s fun for me,” said Luongo who saw plenty of rubber when he played for the Florida Panthers.
“The good thing about it is that guys were kept to the outside so a lot of shots were pretty much easy to handle.”
But he had to be sharp at the end of the second period when he went down to block two close-in chances by Milan Hejduk.
He also kept the game scoreless in the first period when Vancouver was outshot 14-6 and couldn’t draw any energy from a spirited fight between Rick Rypien and Ian Laperriere of the Avalanche.
The Canucks gave up three gilt-edged scoring chances early including Sakic’s attempt eight seconds after the puck dropped. Luongo made a sparkling pad save on the Avalanche captain later in the period.
“There were a lot of plays at the net where he seemed to be in control of his rebounds and he looked like he could always find the puck,” Colorado coach Joel Quenneville said of Luongo.
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said Luongo gave the Canucks a chance to win for the first time against Colorado after their momentum faded when an apparent goal by Markus Naslund was disallowed. A video replay showed he directed the puck in with a skate.
“He was without a doubt our best player on the ice tonight,” Vigneault said of Luongo. “I’m really happy about his performance.”
Naslund still felt he deserved a goal.
“If I don’t see the puck even if I’m moving the foot forward, they can’t expect me to stop skating just because of the forward motion,” he said.
Jose Theodore, who had stopped 90 of 95 shots winning three games against Vancouver this season, left after the first period with a hip injury.
“It’s his hip flexor … similar to pulling a groin muscle but it is not serious,” said Quenneville.
Notes: Canuck Matt Cooke was out with an upper body injury … physical forwards Tyler Bouck and Rypien were in the Vancouver lineup after being called up from AHL Manitoba … Jordan Leopold returned to the Avalanche blue line after off-season hernia surgery … the game matched the NHL’s two iron men … Karlis Skrastins of Colorado has played 459 consecutive games, Morrison has played 457 … 11 of Vancouver’s next 17 games are against division rivals.