VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Canucks didn’t get to celebrate their sixth straight win for very long.
Not with the Boston Bruins waiting on deck.
Roberto Luongo made 19 saves for his third shutout of the season and the 65th of his career Friday as the Canucks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-0.
But with the Bruins set to visit Rogers Arena on Saturday night for the first time since their victory in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, the questions quickly shifted away from Vancouver’s fourth consecutive win on home ice.
“Didn’t that happen about 20 years ago?” asked Canucks head coach John Tortorella. “We’ll play the game hard, they’ll play the game hard and we’ll see what’s left after 60 minutes.”
The Canucks and Bruins met in Boston during the 2011-12 season for their only other meeting since the Cup final, but Luongo watched as Cory Schneider got the start.
“I think it’s just a fun game to play,” said Luongo. “It’s been a few years now and I think we have all moved on, but that being said, I think there is a history there and those are the type of games you want to play in.
“There’s not much we can do about two years ago. (Saturday) night is all about the two points.”
After losing a shutout bid in the dying seconds of Sunday’s win over the Colorado Avalanche, Luongo would not be denied against the punchless Oilers on Friday and is now just one back of Patrick Roy for 14th on the all-time list.
“I felt pretty good. I wasn’t getting much action and that’s not the type of game I love to play, but I was seeing the puck well in warmup so sometimes you just have that feeling and I had that tonight,” said Luongo. “Obviously the guys did a great job in front of me not giving them much.”
The Canucks, who now have back-to-back shutouts after No. 2 goalie Eddie Lack blanked the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Monday, have given up just six goals during their six-game winning streak.
Daniel Sedin, Zack Kassian, Chris Higgins and Dale Weise scored on Friday for Vancouver (19-10-5), which is perfect on its current five-game homestand.
Jason Garrison added three assists for the first three-point night of his career, while Ryan Kesler chipped in with two of his own in a game where the Canucks only took control on the scoreboard midway through the second period.
“You just never know where those type of games go,” said Tortorella. “I thought (Luongo) made some big saves when it was 0-0, made a couple when it was 1-0, and I thought we had a good third period.”
Devan Dubnyk made 36 saves for Edmonton (11-20-3), which also suffered a 4-2 home defeat to Boston on Thursday and has now lost two straight.
“We just couldn’t ever get going,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. “It seemed like every time we got the puck, they had already closed on us. We couldn’t even get out of our zone for most of the night.”
Leading 1-0 after the second period, Vancouver doubled its lead at 2:26 of the third when Kassian deflected a shot from David Booth past Dubnyk.
Dubbed “a project” by Tortorella, Kassian’s sixth goal of the season and first point in nine games came after a good shift for the 22-year-old who has failed to live up to expectations this season.
“He played good. I thought he had good decisions with the puck,” said Tortorella. “On that goal he finishes a check, gets a turnover, scores a goal—made some (good) decisions right on through the game. Just simple little plays staying within himself.”
Higgins then stretched the lead to three at 6:07 when he beat Dubnyk with a lightning-quick release for his ninth of the campaign.
Luongo made a big glove stop on Oilers defenceman Justin Schultz midway through the period before Weise found the mark on the power play with 34.8 seconds left on the clock for his third of the season.
“We just need to play the way we are capable of playing,” said Dubnyk. “That’s been the most frustrating part of the whole year. We’ve shown that we’re capable and we know what to do.”
After a scoreless first that saw the Canucks carry the play, Vancouver came out strong again in the second and took the lead on a 4-on-3 power play.
Implored by Tortorella this week to shoot more, Sedin snapped a five-game goalless drought with his 11th of the season when his shot from the point went in off Oilers defenceman Nick Schultz at 8:41.
Vancouver beat Edmonton 6-2 at Rogers Arena on Oct. 5 and came out firing in the first period on Friday.
The Canucks hemmed the Oilers in their own zone off the opening faceoff and led 6-0 on the shot clock when Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finally directed his team’s first effort at Luongo with just under seven minutes gone.
Dubnyk, who was pulled after giving up three goals in Thursday’s loss, had to be sharp a few moments later with big stops on Kassian and Jannik Hansen.
Not to be outdone, Luongo kept out Edmonton’s best chance of the period with a sprawling stick save off Ales Hemsky on a 2-on-1.
“We had a great start, we didn’t score but we really got the momentum early in that game, great forechecking and created some chances,” said Luongo. “We played really a 60-minute hockey game tonight.”
The Canucks will need more of the same on Saturday against the Bruins, even if Tortorella and his players are trying to downplay its importance.
“We respect Boston. That’s a good hockey club but this is another game on our schedule,” said Tortorella, who was still with the New York Rangers back when the teams met in the 2011 final. “We talked about this homestand. We’ve got four (wins), now we’ve got to play another one against a very good team.”
Notes: Higgins now has two goals and five assists during his four-game point streak. … Friday’s matchup was Kassian’s first against the Oilers since his eight-game suspension for hitting Sam Gagner in the head with his stick during the pre-season. The Edmonton forward missed 13 games with a broken jaw. … Oilers forward Boyd Gordon returned to the lineup after missing six games with a shoulder injury. … Edmonton’s four-game road trip continues Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. … After Saturday’s meeting with the Bruins, the Canucks open a three-game road trip against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. … The third of five meetings between the Oilers and Canucks goes Jan. 21 in Edmonton.