The Canucks goalie made 25 saves as Vancouver posted a 3-2 overtime victory over the Los Angeles Kings in the first game of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Doubts about the veteran goaltender's psyche following late regular-season struggles were abated – at least temporarily – as he pulled the puck off the goal line in overtime before Mikael Samuelsson's second goal of the game gave the Canucks the win at 8:52 of the extra session.
"It was definitely going in," said Luongo. "But once I swiped it off the line, I knew it hadn't crossed, so it was nice."
"I was really close to what happened," said OT hero Samuelsson. "Actually, I was too close. It was a great save."
Luongo won a goaltender's battle as he and Kings counterpart Jonathan Quick stole the show before a white-towel-waving packed house at General Motors Place.
The Vancouver captain helped the Canucks come back from a 1-0 deficit early in the second period and shut the door for good after Fredrik Modin drew the Kings even at 2-2 during a five-minute power play that resulted after Canucks defenceman Andrew Alberts was handed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Brad Richardson.
Luongo said his club had to stay composed after the Kings tied the score during the five-minute power play.
"We came back, I made a big save and, obviously, it made a big difference," said Luongo.
"(Luongo) didn't have a lot of work in the third and he only had one save to make in that overtime, and he made the save," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. "That's what we need from him. His teammates were able to reward him with a strong overtime goal."
The decisive stop came as Jack Johnson whacked at Ryan Smyth's rebound and the puck hit Luongo's blocker and trickled onto – but not over – the goal line.
"I wasn't sure if it went in or not," said Johnson. "I had my fingers crossed but that's the playoffs, that's overtime. You come that close to scoring and then they come down the other end and score on you."
On the opposite side of the ice, Kings goalie Quick, also criticized for poor play down the stretch, made 41 saves – including three on Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin in overtime before Sedin set up the winner.
"Jonathan Quick played very well," said Kings coach Terry Murray. "There's a lot of action around the puck whenever you play Vancouver. They cycle the puck very well. They've got some big shooters from the top end. They get to the net, they create a lot of screens – a lot of traffic – and Quick responded. He played an excellent game.
"He gave us an opportunity to win this one."
Samuelsson netted the winner as, drifting into the high slot, he fired in Sedin's pass from behind the net. Time will tell whether the 24-year-old Kings goaltender can shake off the loss after almost claiming victory in his Stanley Cup playoff debut.
Either way, he won't have to worry about fearing Samuelsson.
"(Sedin) set it up behind me," said Quick, who lived up to his surname on many occasions in his first NHL playoff game. "He was doing that all night. He's been doing that all year. He passed off to whoever was open. I couldn't tell you who scored. I really didn't see it.
Ultimately, Luongo prevailed on a day when Vancouver's playoff mettle was a recurring question. But, he suggested, it's still too early to say whether his swagger, which he said was missing late in the season, has returned.
"We won just one, bud, so we've got three more to go," he said.