Canucks 3 Blues 0
Mats Sundin scored his first playoff goal in five years and Roberto Luongo stopped 30 shots for the shutout as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-0 Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in their NHL first-round playoff series.
It was Luongo’s first playoff shutout and it came in his 14th post-season game.
Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin, into an empty net, scored the other Canuck goals.
Luongo used his size and quickness to leave the Blues shaking their heads.
With St. Louis pushing for the tying goal on a third-period power play, Luongo slid across the net to block a point-blank shot from Andy McDonald. On the same series he got a glove on a laser shot from T. J. Oshie.
That brought chants of “Louuuu, Louuuuu” from the towel-waving, sellout crowd of 18,630.
In the second period, with the Blues again on the power play, Alex Steen fired a shot from along the boards. David Backes tipped the puck, which Luongo stopped with his foot.
Backes collected the rebound and shot again, but the big Canuck goaltender managed another toe save.
The best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final series now returns to St. Louis for games Sunday and Tuesday.
Tempers flared at the end of the game with several fights breaking out. Sticks and gloves littered the ice as the fans roared their approval.
Sundin notched the game’s first goal with 1:56 left in the second period when he deflected a pass from Pavol Demitra past Blues goaltender Chris Mason.
The play looked innocent enough but the puck seemed to squeeze through Mason’s pads.
It was Sundin’s first goal in 15 games, dating back to the regular season. Signed as a free agent for US$5.6 million in December, the big centre last appeared in the playoffs in 2004 with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sundin played the game with a black eye he picked up during a collision in practice Thursday.
Burrows made it 2-0 at 9:46 of the third. Daniel Sedin fired a shot wide, but Burrows was able to tuck the rebound behind Mason.
The Blues went into Friday’s game not wanting to dig themselves into a deeper hole after dropping Wednesday’s series opener 2-1.
The Canucks didn’t want the Blues returning home with their sails filled by the monument of a victory.
The last time the Blues lost back-to-back games in regulation was Jan. 11 and Jan. 13.
The game was fast paced. Unlike the opening match, the referees let the teams play and called few penalties.
The first period was played at break-neck speed with each team dealing out some bone-bruising hits. On the very first shift defenceman Shane O’Brien levelled Dan Hinote with a hit that had the Blues’ forward looking for a licence plate number. Later, McDonald drilled Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa.
Both teams had good scoring chances. With only 24 seconds gone Brad Winchester fired a shot that a scrambling Luongo was able to get his blocker on.
Later, on the period’s lone power play, Sundin fired a shot that Mason stopped. The Blues goaltender didn’t see the rebound and the puck lay tantalizingly in the crease. Both Ryan Kesler and Kyle Wellwood charged to the net but were buried in a scrum.
Hurricanes 2 at Devils 1 (OT)
Defenceman Tim Gleason scored his first NHL playoff goal on a slap shot at 2:40 of overtime and Carolina beat New Jersey to tie the first-round playoff series at a game apiece.
Flyers 2 at Penguins 3 (OT)
Bill Guerin scored his second goal during a rare two-man power play in overtime, and the Penguins went up two games in their first-round playoff series against Philadelphia.