SUNRISE, Fla. – Roberto Luongo joked that he played the angles perfectly after the goal-starved Florida Panthers hit six posts.
Luongo made 31 saves for his fourth shutout of the season, and Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen scored second-period goals in the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-0 victory over the Panthers on Thursday night.
After the game, Luongo was asked about the help from the posts.
“Just great positioning, my friend,” he said.
Luongo, making his second start in Florida since the Panthers traded him to Vancouver in June 2006, had about 20 friends and family members in the stands.
They watched him outduel Tomas Vokoun, tied for the NHL lead with seven shutouts.
Vokoun, making his 20th consecutive start for the Panthers, made 32 saves.
“Obviously, the best player on the ice tonight was Roberto,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “He played well, a couple of times he got help from his posts, but that’s part of being in great position. We were able to score three against a goaltender that’s been real good this year.”
Ryan Kesler added a power-play goal in the third period for the Canucks, 3-3 on the first leg of an NHL-record 14-game trip. Alexander Edler had two assists, while Henrik Sedin, second in the NHL in scoring, had one assist.
“I think it’s a win more than anything,” Luongo said. “I wanted to make sure we got back to .500 on this road trip. It’s a good team effort tonight.”
The Panthers, who have lost five in a row, set a franchise with their 12th consecutive game with two goals or less. Florida has scored a total of 13 goals during that stretch.
But coach Pete DeBoer said he was much happier with his team’s performance than after Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss at Carolina. After that game, general manager Randy Sexton called the team’s performance “brutal.”
“I didn’t have any issue with our effort,” DeBoer said. “I thought our guys came out, stuck to the game plan and gave us what they had. We obviously didn’t score and didn’t win, so you don’t take much consolation in that. But I thought we responded the right way after our last effort.”
In addition to the six posts, the Panthers also wasted a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity when they were penalized for having too many men on the ice.
“Hopefully, that’s the first sign of getting out of a rut,” DeBoer said of the posts. “We hadn’t even been creating chances before. At least we got some chances, we hit some posts, and hopefully that’s a step in the right direction.”
Vancouver hit one post during the game, that coming on a backhander by centre Rick Rypien with the Canucks leading 1-0 in the second period.
Burrows opened the scoring 1:18 into the second period when he one-timed a feed from Henrik Sedin just before being wrestled to the ice by Florida captain Bryan McCabe.
Hansen, playing in his second game after a conditioning stint in the minors, added to the lead with a short-handed goal at 18:10. After Florida dumped the puck into the Vancouver zone, both Dennis Seidenberg and Steven Reinprecht overskated the puck to give Hansen a breakaway. Hansen beat Vokoun with a wrist shot over his left shoulder.
“We had a few posts, I guess it just doesn’t go in right now,” Seidenberg said. “On the other hand, we got an unlucky bounce on the (power play) there. Right now it’s just not working out. We just have to keep working hard and hopefully next game we’re going to get the bounces.”
NOTES: Vancouver D Christian Ehrhoff played in his 400th career game. … Canucks RW Pavol Demitra missed his second consecutive game because of personal reasons. … Florida LW Rostislav Olesz, who sustained a broken finger in the loss at Carolina on Tuesday night, dressed but did not appear in the game other than serving a bench minor.