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Luongo gets best of Hasek in Vancouver debut

Oct 6, 2006 - 1:38 AM DETROIT (Ticker) -- The Detroit Red Wings are starting a new era without Steve Yzerman. Roberto Luongo is part of new era for the Vancouver Canucks.

Luongo enjoyed a successful debut by outplaying six-time Vezina Trophy winner Dominik Hasek as the Canucks posted 3-1 victory over the Red Wings in the season opener for both teams.

Acquired as part of a blockbuster trade which sent troubled right wing Todd Bertuzzi to Florida in June, Luongo is expected to provide the Canucks with a top-notch No. 1 goaltender the club had been lacking.

Luongo, a finalist for the Vezina in 2004, was stellar in his first game in a Canucks jersey as he finished with 27 saves and helped spoil Hasek's return to "Hockeytown."

"I was not really focusing on who was playing on the other side," Luongo said. "I was concentrating playing my first game for my new team."

The Vancouver netminder also played a key role in helping the Canucks kill all nine Detroit power plays.

"Obviously, we took quite a few penalties tonight," new Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "And a big part of penalty killing is strong goaltending, and Roberto gave us the goaltending we needed."

Hasek, 41, began his second stint with the Red Wings after signing with the club as a free agent. The Czech, who missed much of the second half of last season with a groin injury, turned aside just 14 of 17 shots.

Defenseman Sami Salo registered a goal and an assist to help back Luongo. Trevor Linden also scored his 300th career goal as a Canuck in the second period.

Salo and Linden were quick to credit Luongo.

"He was great. He was the difference tonight," Salo said. "It's just a great thing for our psyche, knowing that he was back there."

"He never looked like he was out of place," Linden said. "For sure, he always looked like he was in position."

The opener had a distinctly different feel for the Red Wings, whose long-time captain Steve Yzerman retired after last season following 22 campaigns. Yzerman was part of the pregame ceremonies as he dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Prior to the game, the Red Wings named four-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom as their new captain. However, the defenseman could not help the power play as the Red Wings had a six-game winning streak in openers stopped.

"It felt good getting the C, and a tremendous honor to get it after Stevie," Lidstrom said. "It's not going to change my game at all. It will be a little different in the room, but on the ice, it's not going to change my role at all."

The Red Wings had four of their power plays in the first period, with their best scoring chance coming with just over a minute remaining. But Luongo made a nifty glove save on Henrik Zetterberg's snap shot from the slot.

"I think after that save, it really was a huge confidence booster," Luongo said.

"We had so many opportunities and our power play, for whatever reason, was out of sync," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "Their penalty killing was good and their goaltending was good as well. That probably took the lights out of the crowd."

On their second power play, the Canucks were able to cash in with just five seconds left in the opening period. Salo's shot from the top of the left faceoff circle hit teammate Markus Naslund in front and found its way behind Hasek.

Linden reached his milestone just 2:25 into the middle session by poking a rebound past Hasek.

Just over three minutes later, Salo's wrist shot from the slot sneaked under Hasek's right arm to give Vancouver a 3-0 advantage.

The lead was more than enough for Luongo, who kept the Red Wings off the board until Zetterberg beat him from along the left boards with 4:05 left in the second period.

Luongo turned aside all nine shots he faced in the third. He robbed Zetterberg from in front midway through the session and snared Lidstrom's slap shot from the slot with under six minutes to go.

"I thought Luongo played real well for them tonight," Lidstrom said. "He had a lot of rebounds and was there for the second shot."

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