VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks raised Pavel Bure’s No. 10 to the rafters before honouring the franchise’s first superstar the best way they could—with a rocket-fast start.
Vancouver blitzed Toronto early and Roberto Luongo made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season Saturday as the Canucks defeated the Maple Leafs 4-0.
After a 20-minute ceremony to retire Bure’s jersey, the Canucks came out flying, leading 1-0 on the scoreboard and 11-0 on the shot clock before the game was nine minutes old.
“It was a great performance from the first minute to the last,” said Luongo, who was sporting the Canucks’ Superman shirt for player of the game. “I don’t even know why I’m wearing this … a ton of guys deserve it more than me in this locker-room tonight. We really kept the puck in their zone and cycled and created some chances and were in there pretty much the whole game.”
Known as the “Russian Rocket” for his lightning-quick speed, Bure would have been happy with the Canucks tempo early as Daniel Sedin opened the scoring for Vancouver after a frenetic opening few minutes that saw Toronto goalie James Reimer make a number of big saves.
“We weren’t quite sure what was going to happen after the ceremony,” said Luongo. “We were sitting there a long time but it was a great start for us.”
Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins and Dan Hamhuis also scored for the Canucks (10-5-1), who rebounded from a disappointing 2-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday with one of their best efforts of the season.
“I know our guys weren’t happy how we played against Detroit,” said Vancouver head coach John Tortorella. “We just wanted to simplify our game, play quick and just get to our forecheck.
“No matter how long the ceremony was—and it was a fantastic ceremony—guys were focused on playing the game.”
Henrik Sedin, who along with his brother signed a four-year contract extension worth US$28 million on Friday, picked up an assist on Daniel’s goal to extend his point streak to 11 games (three goals, 10 assists).
Reimer kept the Maple Leafs (10-5-0) in it most of the night, making 43 saves for a Toronto team that was outshot for the 13th time this season and had its three-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a terrible game for us,” said Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle. “Probably the worst game we have played this year.”
Leading 1-0 after a raucous first period, Vancouver made it 3-0 with goals in quick succession early in the second.
Kassian made it 2-0 by firing a shot past Reimer that deflected in off Toronto defenceman Cody Franson at 2:07 on a play that might have cost the Maple Leafs more than a goal against. Gritty forward Dave Bolland suffered a laceration to his left leg on a hit by Kassian earlier in the sequence and had to be helped to the locker-room. He left Rogers Arena on a stretcher and was scheduled to have surgery later Saturday.
Carlyle said Bolland’s situation was similar to the Achilles tendon injury that felled Ottawa Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson for a large chunk of last season.
“I don’t know the severity or which tendon,” said Carlyle. “But he did suffer a cut into that area.”
Not surprisingly, Kassian said there was no intent on his part to injure Bolland on the play.
“I went in their hard to finish my hit, I don’t know what happened but it was a clean hit,” said Kassian. “I know it was clean.”
Higgins then ripped a shot past Reimer on a 2-on-1 rush to make it 3-0 at 5:05 after rookie Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly misplayed the puck at the Vancouver blue-line.
After Toronto killed off a two-minute two-man advantage, Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk was stoned by Luongo on a backhand chance on a power play late in the period that would have given his team life after 40 minutes.
Toronto was shorthanded three times in the first nine minutes of the third period, but Reimer kept his team alive before Hamhuis rounded out the scoring at 14:48.
With his team buzzing early in the first, Luongo had to stay sharp at the other end.
“I was getting antsy, sitting out there for 20, 25 minutes (for the Bure ceremony) and the first 10 minutes of the game not getting any shots,” he said. “I had a lot of built up energy.”
Reimer was strong early with four big stops just over four minutes in, including a miraculous desperation pad save on Alexandre Burrows that could be an early-season candidate for save of the year.
Vancouver finally got one past the Toronto goalie at 5:55 on the power play. The Canucks came into the game tied for 28th in the NHL with the man advantage but connected when Ryan Kesler’s touch pass found Henrik Sedin in front. The Canucks captain rifled a shot that deflected in off Daniel Sedin for Vancouver’s fifth power-play goal this season.
Toronto got its first shot of the night at 8:17, but Phil Kessel’s effort from the slot was gobbled up by Luongo on what would be a long night for the Maple Leafs.
“It wasn’t our sharpest game and they are a really good team over there,” said Reimer. “They took advantage of the fact we weren’t the best team.”
Notes: Bure scored 254 goals and 224 assists in 428 games with Vancouver over seven seasons. … Luongo’s other shutout this season came against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 17. … Daniel Sedin’s goal in the first period was just the Canucks’ second power-play goal at home this season. … Saturday’s game marked the return of Mason Raymond to Vancouver. The Maple Leafs forward, who spent seven seasons with the Canucks, was not offered a contract in the off-season and made the Toronto roster on a tryout. So far in 2013-14, the 28-year-old has five goals and six assists. … Former Canucks tough guy Gino Odjick got a big ovation during Bure’s ceremony. Also on hand was Pat Quinn, who was Bure’s first coach with Vancouver.