DRAMATIC COMEBACKRyan Kesler
earned a well deserved star in last night’s 4-3 shootout win over division rivals the Calgary Flames. The young assistant captain contributed a shorthanded goal that put the Canucks on the scoreboard in the first, before tallying a power play goal in the second.
Playing alongside League veterans Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin, Kesler has accumulated 11 points in seven games (7-4-11), helping the Canucks establish a 6-1-0 record during the same span.
The Canucks improved their season record against the Flames to 3-2-0 and moved into fifth in the Western Conference with 64 points, within eight points of the Chicago Blackhawks and the Flames. For the full NHL standings click here
The rivalry between the Canucks and the Flames gained fuel yesterday, starting with Mike Keenan’s accusation that Willie Mitchell uses an illegal stick, and set the stage for an exciting game.
During the pre-game warm-up Mitchell showcased his sense of humour by using an eight foot long stick.
“Just in case he doesn’t know over there,” said Mitchell. “I’ve got a tape measure. It’s not my stick that does the work, anyway. It’s my brain. I think it’s a good compliment. Obviously, [Keenan is] worried about me playing against Jarome [Iginla].”
Both goaltenders stood on their heads, making crucial saves to keep their teams in the game. Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff turned away 40 shots including a prime scoring chance by Kyle Wellwood, who took his first penalty in 159 games for a high stick. Roberto Luongo
looked like his old self, stopping 38 shots.
Rene Bourque's slapshot squeaked through Luongo in the third to put the Flames up 3-2. Kevin Bieksa
finally cracked Kiprusoff with a shot that deflected in off a Flames defenceman with only 51 seconds left on the clock.
"I picked them up in the first 40 minutes and then they picked me up at the end," said Luongo. "We didn't play our best hockey the first two periods and then with us still tied I give up that goal. But that's what we do as a team, we try to bail each other out and tonight, you saw both sides of that."
"Maybe the hockey gods came to help us because Wellwood took a penalty tonight and maybe they owed us one," said Alex Burrows. "I think we believe in ourselves. That's the most important thing."
The Canucks traveled to Ottawa today for Thursday's game, the second of their Canadian road trip. The Vancouver squad faces off against the Senators, before a much anticipated game in Toronto on Saturday, ending with a match in Montreal on Tuesday.