VANCOUVER - Goalie Roberto Luongo has been bailing out his teammates all season, but after giving up two soft goals Tuesday night he needed help from a composed 21-year-old rookie.
Alex Edler, a six-foot-three, 222-pound defenceman from Ostersund, Sweden, scored in the sixth round of the shootout as the Vancouver Canucks continued their dominance at home with a 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Islanders.
He wasn't fazed by the moment. Edler skated wide on goalie Rick DiPietro, then snapped a shot between his legs.
"It was pretty much the first time since junior hockey that I've taken a penalty shot," said Edler who still qualifies as a rookie although he played 22 regular season and three playoff games with Vancouver last season. "I'm not too familiar with the situation.
"I always wanted to take a penalty shot and it was fun that I got the chance."
Edler's stock is rising. He has one of the hardest shots on the team, averages more than 19 minutes a game and his calm play with the puck has been rewarded with significant minutes on special teams.
"I've always been trained to be pretty calm as a person," said Edler, who left Monday's practice with back spasms but felt fine after the morning skate on Tuesday.
"I was trying to not panic. I find it better to try to stay calm than panic."
Markus Naslund and Daniel Sedin scored in regulation for Vancouver.
Luongo allowed the Islanders a 2-1 lead after giving up a goal to Bill Guerin on a sharp-angled shot from the corner and misplaying a shoot-in behind his net.
Guerin banked his shot in off the goalie, named the Western Conference starter in the all-star game, when the Canucks appeared to anticipate an offside call.
"The (linesman) had his arm up for the offside so there was a little confusion on our part," said Luongo who gave up only one goal in the shootout.
"I wasn't expecting the play to continue but at the same time you've got to be ready for these situations. I'll take the blame for that."
Blake Comeau made it 2-1 when he whacked the puck into the Vancouver net when it came in front after getting caught in Luongo's skates.
"It wasn't an easy night," said Luongo. "Even the second goal ... I lost the puck in my skates. I was just happy we were able to tie it up and get a win in the shootout."
The win marked the 14th consecutive game - 12 of them wins - at GM Place where the Canucks earned at least one point in regulation time.
The victory was Vancouver's seventh in nine games as the Canucks improved to 24-14-4 and took over first place from Calgary in the tight Northwest Division.
The Islanders lost their fourth straight and slipped to 20-17-5. Two of the losses came in overtime, the third in the shootout.
The Canucks hit a season high 19 shots for one period in the opening 20 minutes and peppered DiPietro with 45 shots over 65 minutes, also a season high.
But the Islander goalie, in his fourth game since spraining a knee Dec. 26 in Toronto, was sharp, allowing only a goal to Naslund in the first period.
Sedin, with his 20th of the season, tied the game for Vancouver early in the third period one minute 22 seconds after Comeau gave New York a 2-1 edge.
Sedin said the Canucks had plenty of shots but few quality scoring chances on DiPietro.
"He was good tonight but he saw the shots all the time. We were in the corners and there was no one in front so I think it was kind of an easy game for him." DiPietro said Sedin's shot was deflected.
"It's frustrating any time they tie it up," said DiPietro. "We would have like to carry that lead into the late stages of the period but it ... was just a deflected shot that got by me." Guerin, who scored his sixth goal in seven starts, said the Islanders were fortunate the game wasn't over in the first period.
"We just kind of stood around and watched them play. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters running around us. We were lucky we weren't down 5-0 after the first period."
Notes: It was the Islanders' first appearance here since March 11, 2003 when they lost 4-3 ... Luongo, a Hart and Vezina trophy finalist last season, was chosen fourth overall by the Islanders in 1997 ... DiPietro was chosen first overall in 2000 ... rugged winger Jeff Cowan is hoping to return to the Vancouver lineup Thursday in San Jose after rehabbing a separated shoulder.