Kesler scored the shootout game-winning goal and also found the back of the net during regulation as the Vancouver Canucks beat the New York Islanders 4-3 in a shootout Tuesday night at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.
It was the ending of a near perfect day for Kesler, who was also named an NHL All-Star for the first time in his career. Not a bad day at all.
“It was a really nice ending, win the game and get the two points and it was a pretty good day for me today,” smiled Kesler.
While Kesler finished as the poster boy for his second period goal with 16 seconds left to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead before icing the game as Vancouver’s final shooter in the shootout, it took the entire team to pull off this comeback.
Vancouver opened the game scoring 4:58 into the first period when Alex Burrows deflected in a pass from Daniel Sedin off a Henrik Sedin faceoff win; the Canucks closed out the opening 20 minutes outshooting the Islanders 20-9.
The Canucks were just too much for the Islanders. Or so they thought.
New York roared back in the second tying the game before Kesler’s late goal, but that didn’t faze the crafty Islanders as they rode the momentum of getting 16 shots on Roberto Luongo, to 10 against for Kevin Poulin, into the third.
Back-to-back goals for New York in the final frame, the second putting the home side up 3-2 with just over five minutes to play, and Canucks fans at Nassau were scratching their heads.
That lasted all of 34 seconds.
An unassisted goal by Kevin Bieksa, where he simply put the puck on net and it ricocheted off a defenceman’s stick and in, evened the game up at 3-3 and forced a shootout after overtime solved nothing.
Even before the one-on-one battle, the Canucks breathed a sigh of relief after clawing back to earn at least a single point.
“I wouldn’t say that things went our way tonight,” said Bieksa. “We didn’t play as well as we wanted to, we didn’t really execute at times and a lot of turnovers that aren’t really characteristic of us, so we had to stay with it in the end and grind one out and win in a shootout, which doesn’t happen too often.”
Mason Raymond scored Vancouver’s shootout goal of the year with a crafty spin-o-rama that even opposing fans appreciated and after Luongo put up a brick wall for the final two New York shooters, Kesler vaulted the Canucks to their 14th win in their last 17 games.
“It’s something we want to pride ourselves on, being good on the road and not being satisfied, it doesn’t matter how long of an unbeaten streak we have, we want to keep it going,” Kesler said.
“They had a good pushback, they’re a good young team over there and they work really hard. They probably got talking to after that first period and they responded well. They are a resilient team and we kept pushing and they kept pushing back, so it was a good game.”
All three of Vancouver’s all-stars extended point streaks as Kesler now sits at five games, he’s got five goals and seven points over that stretch, while Daniel Sedin also pushed his streak to five games (5-3-8) and Henrik moved to three consecutive with at least a single assist (0-5-5).
Snubbed all-star Luongo made 38 saves, 29 over the final 45 minutes, to remain unbeaten in regulation through 11 consecutive games.
Mason Raymond knew right when he touched the puck at centre ice as the first Canucks shooter during the shootout that he was going to try something new.
What he did was pull a rabbit out of his hat.
After picking up the puck to begin his assault, Raymond leisurely made his way in on goal, skidding to the right just as he crossed the blueline. The speedy forward swung so wide he almost touched the right faceoff dot before slamming on the breaks in front of the Islanders goaltender and wrapping the puck back around into the empty net.
When the 2011 NHL Plays of the Year air in December, Raymond’s goal will be a part of them.
“I did that in pre-season I think two years ago, I tried it in LA once and it kind of fell off the end of my stick,” explained Raymond. “It’s fun to practice that in practice and see how it goes, but that’s a move that if you can get the goalie to bite on, you can see you’ve got the whole net to shoot at. That’s a nice tap-in when I’m not getting the open nets right now in the real game.
“Guys are being creative now,” Raymond said of shootout moves. “It’s interesting what’s coming out. Shootouts now are exciting to watch and they’re real fun to be a part of. Those points in the long run make a big difference at the end of the year. “
When Daniel and Henrik Sedin were being courted by teams prior to the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, they made it clear they wanted to be a packaged deal. They aren’t opposed to being apart for the 2011 NHL All-Star Game. Things even might get physical if they are. Read more.