The Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames both enjoyed success in 2006-07, thanks in large part to Roberto Luongo and Miikka Kiprusoff. But both teams - and goaltenders - have gotten off to slow starts this season.
Two Northwest Division rivals looking to break into the win column for the first time this season meet on Saturday night when the Canucks visit the Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome.
Vancouver outscored Calgary 25-24 as the teams split last season’s eight-game series, with each winning two at home and on the road.
Luongo, who set a Canucks franchise record with 47 wins, was 4-4-0 with a 3.09 goals-against average in the series. Kiprusoff, the 2005-06 Vezina Trophy winner, was 4-3-1 with a 3.12 GAA versus Vancouver.
The Canucks led the Northwest with 23 road wins, and set franchise bests with 49 wins and 105 points overall as they won the division for the second time in three seasons, but lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual Stanley Cup winner Anaheim.
The Flames, meanwhile, had a Western Conference-high 30 home victories, but finished with only 43 total wins and lost in the postseason’s opening round.
Luongo will try to bounce back after struggling in his season debut for the Canucks (0-1-0), allowing three first-period goals en route to a 3-1 loss to San Jose on Friday. After giving up an early breakaway goal to Joe Thornton, Luongo surrendered two scores to Jeremy Roenick less than four minutes apart later in the period.
“The first period I don’t think we were happy with our effort and I’m going to put myself at the forefront of that one,” Luongo said. “We could use any excuse in the book, but the bottom line is it was our home opener so we have to be energized and come out strong and we really didn’t do that.
“It’s tough to get back in the game when you give up three goals in the first period.”
With Daniel and Henrik Sedin held off the scoresheet, the Canucks continued to struggle. Vancouver was 10-12-3 last season when neither twin registered a point, but both fared well against the Flames.
Daniel Sedin led the Canucks with 36 goals last season, and scored five against the Flames - four of them in Calgary. Six of Henrik’s single-season franchise-record 71 assists in 2006-07 also came against the Flames.
Calgary (0-1-0) started the Mike Keenan era with a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia on Thursday night. Like Luongo, Kiprusoff struggled early as he gave up two goals in the first eight minutes. Daymond Langkow rallied the Flames with two power-play goals, but Kiprusoff surrendered Daniel Briere’s second goal of the game with 1:48 remaining.
“We did a great job of getting back in the game and we kept coming in the second and third and eventually we got the equalizer,” Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. “It’s a tough way to lose but we have to look at ourselves and know that we can’t spot teams a lead like that and have a start like that.”
Iginla had two goals and six assists in the Flames’ four wins over Vancouver last season, but was held to one assist in the four losses.