Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo (1) stops Calgary Flames Tony Amonte in close during the second period. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam)
Luongo made 21 saves as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 3-1 Thursday to win an important NHL divisional game. It was Luongo's first career win against the Flames and Vancouver's first victory against Calgary in three games this season. "It's nice to get the win against these guys," said Luongo after the Canucks improved their record to 16-15-1 and crawled over .500 for the first time in almost a month. "The main thing for us right now is not to get too high or too low.
"Tonight was really the type of game we want to be involved in every night. We were solid defensively and scored goals at key times. That was Vancouver Canuck hockey right there."
Henrik Sedin scored the winning goal late in the second period off a pretty feed from his brother Daniel. He said it was nice to see Luongo get rewarded for his hard work.
"There are a lot of games this year where he's played like this but we haven't been able to score and we lost the game," he said. "He's played like this the whole year."
Luongo, obtained from the Florida Panthers last spring in a trade for Todd Bertuzzi, improved his record to 16-13-1. The win came after he was pulled for giving up four goals on 20 shots in a 5-3 loss to Calgary Saturday night.
"They (the defence) kept a lot of shots from the outside," said Luongo. "A couple of times I was down but I was able to recover."
Some of Luongo's best saves came in the second period when the Flames had four power plays and outshot Vancouver 12-6.
Flames captain Jarome Iginla was foiled by Luongo twice, once on a breakaway and again on a shot during a power play.
"He definitely made some big saves," said Iginla. "We had some plays in front of the net and chances that can swing it. From our side, we've got to make it a little harder on him."
In the first period, Luongo stood his ground and poke-checked the puck away from Kristian Huselius on a two-on-one breakaway.
Calgary ended the night 0-8 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-7.
Defenceman Mattias Ohlund and centre Brendan Morrison also scored for the Canucks. Vancouver had another goal disallowed when Alex Burrows was called for goaltender interference in the second period.
Matthew Lombardi scored shorthanded for the Flames, whose record dropped to 15-11-3. It was just the second loss in the last seven games for Calgary.
The win, combined with a 5-2 victory over Phoenix Tuesday night, was the first time Vancouver has won consecutive games since putting together a three-game winning streak between Nov. 17 and Nov. 22 when they beat St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit in overtime.
Henrik Sedin said the Canucks can't continue their win-one, lose-one trend if they hope to make the playoffs.
"We know we have to get on a streak and get a couple of games above .500 because .500 is not going to cut it," he said.
The Canucks also improved their record to 3-8-1 in games against Northwest Division rivals.
"We're not proud of that record," said Luongo. "We have to worry about doing our job and what we can do to be successful."
The Flames have been hot at home, winning 10 straight games, but continue to struggle on the road where they are 3-8-3. The loss opened a six-game Calgary road trip, their longest of the season.
"We're not happy with the way we played as a team but we have to move on," said Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, who led Calgary with seven shots on net, including one that hit the crossbar behind Luongo.
"We didn't play a full 60 minutes and in this league if you don't play a full 60 minutes you're not going to win hockey games."
Henrik Sedin broke a 1-1 tie at 17:31 of the second after Daniel Sedin gained control of a Flame shot that had rebound off the glass behind the Canuck net.
Daniel skated in on Miikka Kiprusoff, then fooled the Flames' goalie by feeding it to his brother who tapped the puck into the net.
It was Henrik's first goal in 11 games.
"As long as the line is playing well, and we are getting goals, I don't see a difference between scoring and passing," said Henrik, who leads the team with 26 assists. "For me (scoring) is not a big deal but it's nice to get one."
Notes: The Canucks sent defenceman Alexander Edler and forward Lee Goren back to the AHL Manitoba Moose. ...The last time the Canucks were over .500 was Nov. 22 when they were 11-10-1. ...Forward Josh Green and defenceman Rory Fitzpatrick returned to the Vancouver lineup. ...The Canucks wrap up their current home stand against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.