VANCOUVER - All-star goalie Roberto Luongo saved his best work for last Wednesday night.
Challenged by coach Alain Vigneault to be better, he rose to the occasion in the third period and shootout as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2 to end a season-high four-game NHL losing streak.
"We definitely didn't want to end on a losing note heading into the (all-star) break," Luongo said after Mattias Ohlund's two power-play goals got the Canucks to the shootout.
"I started feeling comfortable in the third period and made a couple of big saves," he said after making two head-shaking stops in the shootout.
"We got a big goal in the third to tie it up and then were just able to preserve it until the shootout. It was huge and my break's going to be a little more pleasant now."
Especially after Luongo had surrendered a weak backhand goal to fourth-liner D.J. King and was beaten along the ice on the power play by Brad Boyes, who caught the inside of the post for his career-high 28th goal of the season.
Luongo finished with 26 saves.
The Canucks, who got their first win of the season when trailing entering the third period, struggled to get past regulation time as they had to kill off a 36-second two-man advantage late in the third.
Luongo went down to block a close-in chance by Keith Tkachuk and St. Louis almost scored again when Tkachuk slid into Luongo, knocking the goalie and the puck into the net.
However, referee Kelly Sutherland ruled no goal because the whistle had blown.
Earlier in regulation time, Luongo got his left pad on a quick shot by Boyes. He robbed Boyes again with his glove in the shootout and stacked the pads to foil Paul Kariya.
Even Legace was impressed with the work of Luongo who is skipping the all-star weekend to be with his pregnant wife, Gina, in Florida.
"Without Luongo in the third it would have been an easy win for us," said Legace who's going to his first all-star game.
"He played unbelievable. It's very impressive to watch that man."
Ohlund shot through a crowd to score his first goal and beat Legace in close for the second, firing high as the goalie went down.
But while the power play was two-for-four, Luongo made the difference, he said.
"Some games he's going to let in goals he doesn't like but he ... was huge in the third," Ohlund said. "They had some chances but Louie kept the puck out of the net. It would have been tough letting in a goal there."
Daniel Sedin got the only goal of the shootout in the fourth round by deking Legace one way, then tucking the puck in on his other side.
He almost misplayed his chance.
"I've been trying to shoot it the first two tries so I figured I had to try something else," said Sedin, who leads the Canucks in game-winners. "I was going to pull it back and go upstairs but I lost the puck so I had to wait him out."
Blues coach Andy Murray thought his club deserved to take the lead on the waived-off goal.
"The referee thought there was contact with the goalie," Murray said after the Blues lost for a season-high sixth straight time.
"He thought Luongo had it and he caught it and then he knocked it into the net. But the puck never stopped".
"I'm not happy. I thought we scored a goal that would have put us ahead." Luongo said he had the puck but it came loose when Tkachuk bumped into him. Tkachuk said he was tripped by Canuck defenceman Aaron Miller.
"I wish I could stop but I just don't think the goalie had possession for it to be a quick whistle," Tkachuk said.
NOTES: Vancouver lost defenceman Lukas Krajicek to a shoulder injury when he was checked hard by Tkachuk in the first period ... The Blues were last in the NHL in shots on goal entering Wednesday night's play ... St. Louis was without forwards Mike Johnson (season-ending shoulder surgery) and Martin Rucinsky (separated shoulder) ... Vancouver defenceman Willie Mitchell (back spasms) won't play until after the all-star break ... Jason Jaffray was back in the Canucks lineup after being recalled on Tuesday from AHL Manitoba ... veteran Trevor Linden was the healthy scratch.