CALGARY -- Three weeks between starts feels like a lifetime for a goalkeeper like Roberto Luongo.
The layoff made earning a victory with a 40-save performance all the more rewarding for the Canucks netminder, who led Vancouver to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
"I wouldn't say (I made) a statement, but I really needed to do this first and foremost for myself," said Luongo, who started in goal because Cory Schneider fell ill. "I've been through a lot the last few weeks, so I wanted to really make sure I showed the guys that I'm here for the rest of the year and I'm 100 percent dedicated, and I want to make sure they know that."
Luongo, who was the subject of a tidal wave of trade rumors but wasn't dealt away before the deadline, stood tall before the sold-out Scotiabank Saddledome crowd of 19,289.
The Flames, a team on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention and in the hunt for worst record in the NHL, came out gangbusters and kept up the pace all the way to the end. They even managed 18 shots in the third period.
Luongo was only victimized by Curtis Glencross' first-period marker, slamming the door shut the rest of the way for the Northwest Division-leading Canucks.
"I was nervous, which, go figure, after 12 years in the league you're still nervous to play a game," Luongo said. "It was an important game for me, and I wanted to make sure I gave the team a chance to win, and the boys battled hard and got rewarded in the third with some goals.
"I like facing a lot of shots. I got a few early that really settled me down, put me in the game. They got a fortunate goal there, but we were able to bear down there and limit their chances."
Maxim Lapierre broke a 1-1 tie with just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, and then goals by Mason Raymond and Daniel Sedin blew it open.
"They're a hard team to play against," Canucks center Ryan Kesler said. "They throw a lot of pucks on net, and I don't think we played our best game in the first two periods, and the third, we put some shifts together finally and scored some goals."
Alex Burrows also scored for the Canucks, who are now riding a four-game winning streak.
It's the second time in less than a week the Flames could have deserved a better fate against their Northwest Division rivals only to came up short.
Then again, with the way Calgary is in the hunt for the first selection in the draft and Vancouver has its eye on a division title, it's likely the best result for all, although the Flames don't want to see it that way.
"It's too bad," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I feel in our last four games, we could have come up with four wins. A couple of little mistakes and we just can't get a win."
The Flames have lost seven of nine games, and they are now using younger players as much as possible.
"You're see Bob playing them in important situation, late in the third period of a tight game, in the defensive zone, against the Sedins and things like that," veteran Calgary forward Michael Cammalleri said. "It's invaluable experience for these guys."
In turn, the sting of defeat isn't as painful.
"Let's be honest, right now, when you win or lose, it doesn't have the same effect as when you're in a playoff race and a game like that happens, you say, 'Oh my God, we outplayed them and didn't get the two points,'" Cammalleri said.
"Right now, it doesn't feel as extreme as that. You want the results, you want to win, and we did have some good efforts and did outshoot them for the most part of the game and they went in bing, bang, bong. But that's the difference between them winning games and us not. We need to convert on our chances, also."
NOTES: The Canucks planned to start Schneider in goal, but he came down with an illness and the team had to sign University of Calgary goaltender Dustin Butler on emergency basis to serve as a backup to Luongo. ... The Canucks were also forced to go without left wing Chris Higgins, who suffered an undisclosed injury during Monday's game against the Phoenix Coyotes. ... The Flames are also on a run of losing a player every game. Center Matt Stajan (upper body) was injured in Monday's game against the Colorado Avalanche. To replace Stajan, center Blair Jones was called up from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League. Jones started the season in Calgary but was sent to the minors after 11 games. The Flames are also without forwards Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and left wing Jiri Hudler (upper body), along with D Derek Smith. ... During the wave of injuries, the Flames have summoned forwards Roman Horak, Max Reinhart and Sven Baertschi from the minors. Reinhart, a third-round pick of the 2010 draft, collected his first NHL point by assisting Glencross' goal. ... The Flames lost forward Steve Begin early in the game after he was hit on the neck by a puck on his first shift.