VANCOUVER — Roberto Luongo stopped 20 shots and made Chris Higgins' second-period goal stand up in the Canucks' 1-0 win over the Predators in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series Thursday night.
It was Luongo's second shutout of these playoffs and the third of his postseason career.
Nashville's Pekka Rinne had several spectacular stops among his 29 saves to keep his team in the game despite it being outshot 30-20 and outplayed for long stretches by the Canucks, who showed no signs of being tired after just one day of rest following an emotional seven-game opening-round series against the Blackhawks.
Luongo and Rinne are finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given to the league's best goaltender.
Higgins scored at 12:14 of the second. About the last person in the arena to realize he had scored was the referee behind the net.
Higgins stepped into a shot that a sprawling Rinne got a piece of. The puck deflected up, hit just under the bar in the net, then fell back out on the ice.
The red light game on, the horn sounded, and the Canucks celebrated. But referee Marc Joanette waved the goal off. Play continued for several seconds before the whistle blew. The referees huddled while TV replays showed the puck clearly in the net. Finally they signalled a goal.
First Period—None. Penalties—Samuelsson, Van (hooking), 4:08; Hornqvist, Nas (high-sticking), 6:35; Tootoo, Nas (cross-checking), 16:16; Ehrhoff, Van (hooking), 19:28.
Second Period—1, Vancouver, Higgins 2 (Lapierre, Bieksa), 12:14. Penalties—Hornqvist, Nas (roughing), :44; Sullivan, Nas (slashing), 3:42; Vancouver bench, served by Torres (too many men), 7:26; Ballard, Van (clipping), 16:35.
Third Period—None. Penalties—Hornqvist, Nas (tripping), 3:53; Ballard, Van (tripping), 14:38. Shots on Goal—Nashville 5-6-9—20. Vancouver 16-10-4—30. Power-play opportunities—Nashville 0 of 5; Vancouver 0 of 5. Goalies—Nashville, Rinne 4-3-0 (30 shots-29 saves). Vancouver, Luongo 5-3-0 (20-20).
Flyers: Jeff Carter, who led the team in regular-season goals with 36 and missed the last three games of the East quarterfinal against the Sabres because of a knee injury sustained in Game 4, will play in the semis against the Bruins at some point, general manager Paul Holmgren said. The series begins Saturday.
Sabres: Goalie Ryan Miller said a concussion, not a reported bruised collarbone, was what sidelined him late in the regular season. Miller said he was hit in the head four times by shots in four games over a week in late March and the cumulative effects forced him to miss four games. Media reports said he was out with a bruised collarbone sustained on one of the shots. Miller said he did have a bruise but it wasn't bad enough for him to miss four games.