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Luongo records third straight shutout as Canucks stymie Blue Jackets 2-0

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

VANCOUVER - Roberto Luongo may not be on Patrick Roy's level just yet, according to teammate Aaron Miller, but he's already writing new chapters in the Vancouver Canucks' record book.

The all-star netminder earned his third consecutive shutout Thursday, stopping 26 shots to lead the Canucks to a 2-0 NHL victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in a battle of defensive-minded teams at GM Place.

Defencemen Mattias Ohlund and Lukas Krajicek scored for Vancouver (14-9-2), but the story was Luongo.

The 28-year-old, who led the Canucks to a 2-0 victory over Chicago on Sunday and a 4-0 blanking of Anaheim on Tuesday, has now gone 193 minutes and 56 seconds without allowing a goal. That betters the team mark of 184 minutes and 20 seconds set by back-up Ken Lockett in 1974-75.

The NHL record is 332 minutes of error-free goaltending (five and a half games), accomplished by Brian Boucher of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2003-04.

"I don't think this has been our best three games, but he's been great," Miller said. "Confidence in your goaltender is very important for your team, and the team can only go as far as your goaltender can take them. And right now he's got us on his back."

Miller was loath to compare Luongo and Roy, Miller's former teammate in Colorado and the all-time NHL leader in wins.

"It's tough to say over a career," Miller said. "Let Roberto win a couple Cups first, then we'll see. But right now he's as good as any goalie's ever been."

For his part, Luongo says the credit for his impressive streak should go to his teammates.

"(Personal achievements) are nice, but I think we should look more at the way we're playing as a whole and winning games," said Luongo, who was serenaded with chants of "MVP" after earning first-star honours. "The whole group should feel good."

The Canucks had the better of play in the first and third periods, but it was the second frame where they did the most damage despite being outshot 15-6.

Ohlund opened scoring on an odd play at 4:05, as his pass on a 3-on-2 rush hit Columbus captain Adam Foote's skate and bounced behind a helpless Fredrik Norrena, who got the start in goal with No. 1 netminder Pascal Leclaire sidelined by a right hamstring injury suffered during Monday's loss to Edmonton.

Ohlund's goal was the 82nd of his career, leaving him one shy of Jyrki Lumme for the team's all-time record for goals by a defenceman.

Krajicek made it 2-0 eight minutes later, depositing a Daniel Sedin feed through Norrena's legs after a dominating Canucks shift with the teams playing 4-on-4. After that, it was all Luongo.

He made a nifty left arm save off a Michael Peca wrister from 15 feet, robbed Dan Fritsche on a pair of in-close whacks, then snuffed David Vyborny with a left arm save on a tough wrist shot.

The Blue Jackets swarmed like buzzards in the game's final 30 seconds, but Kris Russell was unable to knock the puck into the empty net.

"(Luongo) is one of the best goalies in the league," said Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash, who was robbed by Luongo's right pad on a 2-on-1 in the first period. "Not to take anything away from him, but we didn't work him hard enough or bury our chances when we had them."

The loss was Columbus's second in a row on this three-game western Canadian road swing. The Blue Jackets (11-10-4) wrap the trip up in Calgary on Saturday.

Columbus is also a disappointing 4-7-3 in November after a strong start to the season.

"We need to work harder in practice," said Peca. "More than just putting pucks on the net, we need to really compete."

Vancouver, meanwhile, won its third game in a row and fifth straight at home. The Canucks began the season with a 1-6-0 record at GM Place, but are now 7-6-1 on home ice. Vancouver finished November with a 9-2-2 record.

"It all started off with a couple of divisional games," Luongo said of his team's resilience after a poor October. "We all saw what happened with Nashville (a 3-0 loss on Nov. 1), and we turned it around."

Notes: Trevor Linden, who is one contest shy of 1,100 career games with Vancouver, was a healthy scratch for the Canucks. He was replaced by call-up Mike Brown, who played his second career game. ... Brown earned a decision over Blue Jackets forward Jared Boll in a spirited first-period scrap. ... Ron Hainsey, a defenceman, saw his career-high points streak come to an end at six games (one goal, six assists).


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