BUFFALO, N.Y. – Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo had little trouble picking up his first shutout of the season against a Buffalo Sabres team that’s having trouble scoring goals.
Luongo made 25 saves and the Vancouver Canucks shut out the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Thursday night.
“He made some big saves on a power play to keep it out,” Canucks coach John Tortorella said. “I don’t think he was terribly busy, but that’s a hard game for him and he made some big saves at key times for us.”
Brad Richardson, Chris Higgins and Ryan Stanton scored for the Canucks (5-3-0), who are off to their best start since opening 2005 at 6-1-1.
Luongo was tested with 11 shots in the third period before finishing his first shutout since Feb. 22 at Nashville. It was his 63rd career shutout. Luongo entered the game with a .899 save percentage and three games with three or more goals allowed
“I’ve been feeling good the whole year,” Luongo said. “The stats don’t show it really, but the important thing is not to get frustrated.”
The Sabres (1-7-1) remain winless at home this season and were again booed off the ice after the second period in what’s become a familiar refrain.
Even louder were the “Fire Darcy” chants in reference to Sabres general manager Darcy Regier that came after Vancouver’s third goal.
Regier declined comment after the game.
Coach Ron Rolston and his players were disappointed with the loss.
“If we don’t play the right way, they’re creating their own frustration,” Rolston said. “So they’ve got to figure that out.”
Buffalo failed to build momentum after getting its first win of the season Tuesday at the New York Islanders. Their offence didn’t record their 10th shot until there was 5:35 to go in the second period, as Drew Stafford took a shot from the top of the left circle.
The closest the Sabres came to scoring came 53 seconds into the third period when Thomas Vanek beat Luongo over his right shoulder. It was ruled a goal, but overturned when replays showed the puck hitting the crossbar and left post before rolling along the goal line.
“I thought it was in,” Luongo said. “I was kinda cheating a little bit there. I thought he was going to bring it to his backhand and he ended up shooting. That one I probably deserved to get scored on, but it all evens out by the end of the year.”
Luongo won a matchup of goaltenders from the gold-medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Canada’s Luongo beat the United States’ Miller, who gave up the decisive goal to Sidney Crosby in overtime. Both are candidates to play for their countries at the games in Sochi, Russia, in February.
It was Vancouver’s first win in four trips to Buffalo since Feb. 7, 2003.
Vancouver opened the scoring with 5:07 to play in the first. Cody McCormick gave the puck away in the slot and Higgins scored over Miller’s left shoulder.
The Canucks doubled their advantage on an unusual short-handed goal. Jason Garrison’s shot deflected off Mark Pysyk and Richardson used his backhand to tap the puck out of the air and past Miller. It was the Canucks’ league-best third short-handed goal of the season.
Miller made 31 saves for the Sabres. He was in the locker room but, through a team spokesman, declined to speak to reporters.
Rolston raved about his goaltender.
“Oh, he played great again,” Rolston said. “He was fabulous again for us. He’s been our best player from the start.”
It was the second time the Sabres have been shutout this season and the seventh time they scored one goal or fewer.
NOTES: Sabres RW Patrick Kaleta served the fourth game of a 10-game suspension, which he is appealing. … Canucks D Alexander Edler served the final game of his three-game suspension for a high hit on San Jose’s Tomas Hertl. … Sabres rookie C Zemgus Girgensons was scratched in the first game since he was struck in the head with a puck at the Islanders on Tuesday night.