Canucks-Penguins Preview

The Associated PressOctober 18, 2013

Roberto Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury have received their share of criticism, but each goaltender has shrugged off those barbs to help their respective teams get off to solid starts.

They could oppose each other Saturday as Luongo's Vancouver Canucks seek a third straight victory while trying to deal Fleury's Pittsburgh Penguins their first home loss.

Luongo had been the subject of trade rumors throughout the last two years, and he posted a 2.56 goals-against average and .907 save percentage - his worst since his rookie season in 1999-2000 - while starting only 18 games in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Vancouver failed to deal Luongo at the trade deadline, and he was benched after losing the first two games of the team's first-round playoff sweep at the hands of San Jose.

On draft night, though, the Canucks (5-3-0) opted to trade Cory Schneider to New Jersey for the ninth overall pick, once again making Luongo the team's undisputed No. 1 goaltender. He's 4-3-0 with a 2.42 GAA and has won his last two starts, posting his 63rd career regular-season shutout with 25 saves in a 3-0 victory over Buffalo on Thursday.

''He made some big saves on a power play to keep it out,'' coach John Tortorella said. ''I don't think he was terribly busy, but that's a hard game for him and he made some big saves at key times for us.''

Luongo had only a .898 save percentage after five starts, but he made 20 saves in a 3-2 win over Philadelphia on Tuesday before beating the Sabres.

''I've been feeling good the whole year,'' Luongo said. ''The stats don't show it really, but the important thing is not to get frustrated.''

Luongo may be in net against the Penguins (6-1-0), who have won each of their four home games.

Fleury has won all six of his starts while posting a 1.67 GAA after making 24 saves in a 4-1 win over Philadelphia on Thursday. He went 23-8-0 with a 2.39 GAA in 33 appearances during the 2013 season, but he allowed 14 goals through the first four of Pittsburgh's six-game first-round win over the New York Islanders and lost his starting job to Tomas Vokoun.

With Vokoun undergoing treatments for blood clots and sidelined indefinitely, coach Dan Bylsma put his confidence in Fleury.

''He's looked strong the whole season," Bylsma said.

Fleury has allowed two goals or fewer in five of his starts.

"It's where you want to be," Fleury said. "We're not thinking too far ahead, just getting two points every night and go from there."

Sidney Crosby has recorded a point in each contest and had a goal and an assist in Thursday's win. He has six goals and eight assists and leads the NHL with 14 points - four more than Henrik Sedin, who has a goal and nine assists.

''You really just focus on your work ethic and making sure you're committed to doing what you need to do every night,'' Crosby said. ''Sometimes, it doesn't work out that way, especially early on. But we found a way to win games for different reasons.''

These team's haven't met since Pittsburgh scored twice on Luongo in a shootout and Fleury made 33 saves in a 4-3 victory Oct. 6, 2011.