for this game

Canucks take Game 1 as Luongo blanks Predators

Apr 29, 2011 - 5:54 AM
Vancouver, BC (Sports Network) - Roberto Luongo outdueled Pekka Rinne and Chris Higgins notched the game's only goal as Vancouver got by Nashville, 1-0, in Game 1 of this Western Conference semifinal from Rogers Arena.

Only two days removed from a thrilling Game 7 overtime victory against the defending-champion Blackhawks, Luongo posted his second shutout of these playoffs with 20 saves.

Higgins tallied late in the second period with assists from Maxim Lapierre and Kevin Bieksa for the Canucks, who recorded their fourth home win of the 2011 postseason.

"It was a good first game for us in this series," Bieksa noted. "It was what we expected; Nashville's a stingy team defensively, so they're not going to give us a whole lot. We're going to have to play tight and capitalize on the chances they give us."

Rinne was solid with 29 stops for the Predators, who recorded their first-ever playoff series victory with a six-game decision over Anaheim.

Game 2 returns to Vancouver on Saturday.

Two former Montreal Canadiens combined to give Vancouver the only offense of the game, at 12:14 of the second period.

Bieksa worked the puck loose from a battle along the right boards near the blue line and dished to Lapierre -- who came to Vancouver late in the season by way of Montreal and Anaheim. He fed Higgins -- who played for the Habs from 2003-09 -- in the slot and the shot caromed over a fallen Rinne, then quickly bounced out.

Play continued for several seconds before being whistled dead as there was no clear call on the ice. A brief review determined the puck hit the netting under the crossbar.

"I saw it before everyone else but I'm glad it went in," Higgins admitted.

Luongo stopped a Mike Fisher breakaway with just over five minutes played in the third period, and Rinne returned the favor on Daniel Sedin with just under eight minutes remaining.

Rinne went to the bench for an extra skater with 90 seconds to play, but the Canucks cut off all shooting and passing lanes inside their zone.

"We got lucky a few times (in the first two periods), we didn't have some things right," Rinne said. "I don't know why we didn't come out strong, but we did come out strong in the third period and I did as much as I could to keep us in the game."

Rinne had to be sharp in the first period as the Canucks showed no signs of fatigue from their short rest. The Finn halted all 16 shots he faced in the opening 20 minutes, then as Nashville kept the pressure on in the third, was good on four Vancouver offerings to keep the game close.

Luongo had to make just five saves in the first and six stops in the middle stanza before finishing the game by turning aside nine more chances from the Preds.

Game Notes

Luongo has three career postseason whitewashes...This was Vancouver's first 1-0 playoff victory, and Nashville's initial 1-0 playoff loss...The Predators suffered their fifth scoreless postseason game in franchise history...Former Nordiques and Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin, who finished his 18-year career with the Canucks in 2009, was among the 18,860 in attendance.