VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - A couple of good early scoring chances helped Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo get into the game.
That was bad news for a New Jersey team already struggling to score.
Luongo made the best of his 30 saves in the opening minutes, turning away a high Henrik Tallinder shot after a bad turnover and kicking out his left pad to deny Ilya Kovalchuk on the rebound as the Canucks beat New Jersey 3-0 Monday night.
``I like to face a few shots early just to get a feel, especially after not playing for a week,' Luongo said. ``That rebound save off Kovalchuk really got me going for the rest of the game.'
Raffi Torres and Ryan Kesler scored in the first two periods, and Henrik Sedin rounded out the scoring on a penalty shot with 6:17 left as the Canucks, playing their first game in six days, won their third straight and improved to 5-0-1 on home ice.
Martin Brodeur finished with 20 saves for the Devils, who are off to their worst start in 27 years at 3-9-1 and last in the NHL with just seven points.
``We're digging ourselves a hole here that is getting pretty deep,' New Jersey captain Jamie Langenbrunner said. ``We've got to start piling up some wins.'
Right now the injury-riddled Devils would settle for some goals.
New Jersey was playing its third road game in four nights, and first since top forward Zach Parise hurt his knee Saturday in Los Angeles. Parise, who averaged more than 36 goals the past four seasons, will have exploratory arthroscopic knee surgery, a big blow to a team ranked last in the NHL with 20 goals.
``When you look at the numbers it's mind-boggling a little bit,' Brodeur said. ``When you don't score goals everything is magnified and right now it's as magnified as it gets.'
It also makes for easy nights for opposing goaltenders.
After the two early saves, Luongo wasn't tested often by a Devils team that has scored two or fewer in six straight games. He got one break on an apparent goal in the second period as the referee ruled David Clarkson interfered with the goalie, penalizing the forward and waving off the goal.
``When things are not going well you want to make sure you get dirty in front of the net and they were crashing hard and luckily I got that call in the second period,' Luongo said.
He got another break when Matt Taormina hit the post late in the second period, but made a nice glove save early in the third on Kovalchuk, who was held without a point for a fourth straight game.
It was Luongo's first shutout of the season, and 52nd of his career, second to Brodeur (112) among all active goalies.
``It's just a win,' Luongo said. ``We know we have a tough conference and we want to get as many points as possible, we don't want to dig a hole and try to climb back like we did last year.'
That what the Devils face, though it looked like they might finally get a break after Colin White pulled a puck off their goal line just 2:30 in, and Canucks defender Christian Ehrhoff hit both posts three minutes later.
``I was like 'wow' this is good. It could have been a lot worse,' Brodeur said.
But Torres opened the scoring with 6:41 left in the first after Taormina, one of three rookies on an injury-filled defense, coughed up the puck behind his own net.
``It's the same story every night it seems,' Brodeur said. ``We're making mistakes and you can't afford to make any mistakes when you don't score any goals. We were in control of the game and we just kind of fumble the puck behind out net and here we go again.'
Kesler made it 2-0 on a rebound shortly after killing off a second straight power play. New Jersey finished 0 for 2 with the man advantage and is last in the NHL with three goals on 41 chances.
``It's hard when your confidence is as low as our offense's is now,' Brodeur said.
Notes: Canucks LW Daniel Sedin failed to record a point for the first time all season, ending his nine-game streak with seven goals and five assists. Vancouver D Keith Ballard returned after missing five games with post-concussion symptoms, but D Ryan Parent sat out with a sore groin.
The Associated Press News Service
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