VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Roberto Luongo celebrated his 700th NHL game in style with a sweet shutout victory.
His next start might bring back some sour memories.
Luongo made 28 saves in his milestone outing and led the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-0 win over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night.
He might be back in the nets on Saturday in Boston against the Bruins, the team that beat Luongo and the Canucks last season in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. That marquee matchup with start Vancouver's four-game road trip.
``We're going to enjoy the win and we'll focus on Boston (Thursday),' Luongo said.
Luongo earned his second shutout of the season - both against the Wild - and the 57th in his NHL career as the Canucks (25-13-3) moved to the top of the league standings with 53 points.
Canucks coach Alain Vigneault hasn't said if Luongo or backup Cory Schneider, a Massachusetts native, will start against the Bruins.
``I wasn't playing to get the next start,' said Luongo who was shelled 8-1, and pulled at 4-0 in Games 3 and 4 in Boston last June.
Schneider mopped up again when Luongo got the hook trailing 3-0 in Game 6, also in Boston. Luongo lost the deciding game 4-0, and a downtown riot ensued in Vancouver.
``Tonight's game was more important than Saturday's game ... division rival and they're right behind us in the standings,' Luongo said. ``That was my focus.'
Luongo, who made 33 saves on Dec. 19 in a 4-0 win over Minnesota, wasn't severely tested but was good when he had to be. Top-line forwards Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows had goals, and Manny Malhotra scored into an empty net in the final minute.
``We tried to make those guys play out of their comfort zone,' said Luongo, in the second season of an 11-year contract. ``Whatever chances they had I was able to challenge and be confident that the boys would take care (of rebounds) back there.'
Vancouver has one more point than Western Conference-rival Chicago, and the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers. The defending Western champion Canucks have won seven of 10.
The Wild (21-14-6), who led the Northwest Division before a rash of injuries in December, lost for the 10th time in 11 games and are five points behind Vancouver. Minnesota has lost 10 straight to the Canucks in Vancouver.
``Eventually this is going to have to stop,' said Wild goalie Josh Harding, who stopped 32 shots. ``We have to start winning some hockey games.'
The Canucks took a 2-0 lead in the first period after Minnesota's Nick Schultz broke in on Luongo but hit the post with a shot off an odd-man rush.
Sedin, with his fifth goal in six games and 18th of the season, opened the scoring with Vancouver's NHL-leading 44th first-period goal. His shot from above the circle eluded Harding, who was screened by Burrows.
Burrows made it 2-0 just 3:42 later. The Canucks forward fell into the net but managed to finish a three-way passing play with the Sedin twins.
Luongo preserved the lead in the scoreless second period. He got a shoulder on Pierre-Marc Bouchard's blast and snagged Cal Clutterbuck's power-play shot that was headed for the top corner.
``He's one of the top goalies, and he showed it again,' Burrows said. ``He made some key saves in the second (period) on a couple of breakdowns.'
Later in the period, Luongo stood his ground against Devin Setoguchi on another odd-man rush and found Nate Prosser's blue-line drive through heavy traffic. He got a glove on Setoguchi's shot from the slot with four minutes remaining.
``He was joking with me out there,' Setoguchi said. ``But you have to bury some of those chances. It's one of those things where the more frustrated you get, the worse it gets.'
Burrows almost made it 3-0 early in the third period when Daniel Sedin's shot hit him in front of the net and glanced off the post.
Wild coach Mike Yeo said frustration showed when his win-starved club couldn't bury its chances.
``That's somewhat of a product of how things have gone for us lately,' Yeo said. ``You could certainly pick up on some frustration on the bench. We're going to have to fight through this.'
NOTES: The Canucks held out a Minnesota defense tandem of Keith Ballard and Andrew Alberts. ... Setoguchi and Casey Wellman came off the Wild's injured list. ... The Wild will play nine of their next 12 on the road ... Both forward David Booth (knee) and defenseman Aaron Rome (thumb) have recovered sufficiently from their injuries to accompany the Canucks on their four-game trip that will begin Saturday at Boston.
The Associated Press News Service
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