The Vancouver Canucks have earned at least one point in each of
Roberto Luongo’s starts over the past two-plus months.
The St. Louis Blues were the last team to prevent that from
Vancouver continues its chase of the Presidents’ Trophy at St.
Louis, where the Blues are looking to revive their fading playoff
Luongo has gone 16-0-5 with a 1.90 goals-against average since a
3-2 regulation loss to the Blues on Dec. 5, including a 3-1 victory
in the rematch Dec. 20. He won his sixth straight start Saturday,
making 24 saves in a 4-2 win against Calgary.
For all of Luongo’s success, he credits his team for playing
well in front of him. Vancouver (36-11-9), which has an NHL-best 81
points, has killed off 31 straight penalties over its last eight
games and 38 of 39 in the last 10.
”Our penalty kill has been good all year and come up big in
crucial situations and (it was) no different (Saturday),” Luongo
Mikael Samuelsson stayed hot, scoring twice to give him seven
goals and seven assists in his last eight games after tallying only
a single assist in the previous 14. He attributed his recent surge
to coach Alain Vigneault moving him back on the second line with
Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond, who assisted on Samuelsson’s first
”I’m not only here to score goals, but when it doesn’t go in
for you, what are you going to do?” Samuelsson said. ”You gotta
stick with it and believe in yourself. Everybody is important to
the team and not everyone puts points up.”
Alex Burrows also added a pair of goals.
While Luongo continues his stellar play, the recent struggles of
Jaroslav Halak have contributed to St. Louis’ freefall toward the
bottom of the Western Conference.
Halak was pulled midway through the second period after allowing
three goals on 20 shots in a 3-1 loss in Minnesota on Saturday. The
Blues (24-21-9) have lost seven of nine, with Halak going 1-3-2
with a 3.62 GAA during that stretch.
”Any time you’re taken out, as a player you’re going to be
angry and upset,” defenseman Erik Johnson said, ”but we weren’t
very good in front of him and didn’t give him much of a chance.
It’s not his fault at all.”
After a five-game winning streak, St. Louis has lost 13 of 17,
allowing 3.5 goals per game in that stretch.
”We have to understand that success comes from that collective
five-man effort,” coach Davis Payne said. ”This is not the time
of year where you can have any guys take off.”
Alex Steen has three goals – including the game-winner Dec. 5 –
and an assist against the Canucks this season. However, Steen has
only one goal in his last 15 games.
Vancouver has won its last two at St. Louis and three of four
overall versus the Blues.