VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Olli Jokinen knew enough about Roberto Luongo from their six seasons together as teammates to be certain the Vancouver Canucks’ netminder wasn’t going to let a few soft third-period goals ruin his confidence.
And he was right.
Luongo stopped six Florida shots in overtime and five of six in a shootout as Vancouver defeated the Panthers 4-3 on Sunday night.
“We battled hard but obviously Luongo was outstanding out there,” said Jokinen. “I feel bad for Eddie though. We had three chances to put the game away in the shootout and didn’t score. That’s what usually happens over there when Luongo is in net.”
Josh Green scored in the sixth round of the shootout to give the Canucks their season-high seventh straight win.
Green beat Florida netminder Ed Belfour high to the stick side from 20 feet out for the game winner.
For much of the game it appeared that Luongo was going to steal one from his former club as he held the Panthers at bay for two periods. But the 27-year-old gave up a pair of weak third-period goals to give Florida some hope.
“I’m more happy to get a seventh win in a row than to beat them,” said Luongo. “They played hard tonight. I’m sure they wanted those two points but they battled for the full 65 and should be proud.”
This was the first time Luongo, who faced 36 shots, had faced his former team since coming over to the Canucks in the biggest trade of the summer.
Knowing many of the shooters and their tendencies may have been an advantage for Luongo as only defenseman Steve Montador was able to put one past him in the shootout.
“I knew a couple of the guys but I think they wanted to switch it up and not show me the same moves,” said Luongo. “Monty was the only one who could score on me last year in a shootout and he did it again tonight.”
A resurgent Trevor Linden opened the scoring for Vancouver with just 10 seconds remaining in the first period.
Ville Peltonen tied the game 5 minutes into the second period.
The Panthers were finally rewarded for their hard work early in the third period as they took the lead two minutes in.
Mike Van Ryn stepped in from the point and one-timed a weak shot from the boards that handcuffed Luongo, seemingly going right through his glove and into the net.
Vancouver tied it up two minutes later on a great individual effort by Markus Naslund.
The Canucks’ captain stole the puck off Van Ryn on the forecheck and battled his way to the front of the net, getting two shots away before finally chipping his third effort past Belfour for his 13th of the season.
For Naslund the goal broke a 17-game goal scoring drought, the longest of his career since going 18 in a row during the 1996-97 season.
Brendan Morrison restored Vancouver’s lead midway through the period, jumping on a rebound in the high slot and drilling a one-timer through Belfour’s legs for his 11th of the season.
But the lead was short-lived as Gregory Campbell made it a 3-3 hockey game just 73 seconds later with a harmless looking wrist shot that beat Luongo from 35 feet. Campbell’s third of the season came with the Panthers’ shorthanded.
With Daniel and Henrik Sedin both registering an assist on Sunday the Canucks are now 15-9-0 this season when both have notched at least one point. Over their career the Canucks are 103-34-16 when that happens. … The Canucks have played in 27 games this season that have been decided by one goal or in a shootout.