Kesler hit the century mark 3:52 into the third period and his second game-winner of the season was enough to push the Canucks to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.
The win bumps Vancouver’s four-game winless slump and ends Colorado’s four-game winning streak; the Canucks are now 3-0-0 against the Avalanche this season and tied with their rivals for top spot in the Northwest Division.
Each of Kesler’s 100 goals were scored in a Canucks uniform and perhaps none were as quirky as his third period tally on Peter Budaj. Kesler's wrist shot from the slot got some air after Budaj made the initial save, the puck then proceeded to hit the goaltender in the back of the helmet before trickling down his back, hitting his stick and going into the net.
To confuse things, Jeff Tambellini was parked beside Anderson and with the puck in the air he swiped his stick at it, giving the appearance of a high-sticking goal. No goal, waived the referee, until his old pal instant replay corrected him.
“I put it top corner and he made an unbelievable save and it should have went in the first time,” said Kesler, who hit the 100 goal plateau in his 423rd NHL game.
“It’s not that big of deal, it’s 100, obviously it’s a nice milestone, but it’s all from hard work, my line has been working really hard and it’s good to get a greasy one like that.”
Tambellini picked up the second assist on the Kesler goal and a few laughs from the bench when the replay showed him missing the puck completely and whacking Budaj in the head with his stick.
“I knew I hit something hard,” laughed Tambellini, “I just wasn’t sure if it was the puck and then I figured out it was his head. I wasn’t sure what happened there it happened so fast.”
Kesler, Tambellini and Mason Raymond combined for three points in the win, but it was Vancouver’s big three of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows doing the most damage with two points apiece, including a goal each for D. Sedin and Burrows.
Kevin Bieksa opened the scoring 10:32 into the first period with his first goal of the season before John-Michael Liles even the game early in the second. The Sedins, coming off back-to-back pointless games, came together for Daniel’s 13th goal of the year off a slap pass from Henrik at the 10-minute mark.
Kesler’s 10th goal of the year put Vancouver up 3-1 in the third; Matt Duchene cut into the lead shortly after, but Burrows finished off a tic-tac-toe play at 13:07 to improve Vancouver’s record to 11-7-3.
“We had a lot of chances right off the bat, Hank and Danny made a few plays and we had some shots even off the rush with D men coming in and it was only a matter of time before putting them away and I was lucky enough to put one away in the third,” said Burrows, adding that it was a total team win.
“I thought we played much better, I thought we worked really hard and kept our shifts shorter and we worked hard and everyone competed really hard and it showed. I thought we were a bit faster than them tonight and we got the result that we wanted.”
Roberto Luongo was sharp in goal stopping 21 shots, while Peter Budaj and Craig Anderson combined for 15 saves for Colorado.
Kirk McLean pins were handed out to fans in attendance on Kirk McLean Ring of Honour night, but earplugs would have been more appropriate.
During a pre-game ceremony at Rogers Arena, McLean became the second player inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour, a new initiative launched this season to celebrate and salute Canuck heroes who have made a lasting impact on the franchise.
As you’d expect, the Canucks career leader in wins by a goaltender was showered with an almost unbearable amount of cheers.
“It’s pretty exciting, without a doubt,” said McLean of the tribute before the game. “I was here for Orland’s and I was very excited for him and just the way it’s done. It’s obviously a very nice honour and gesture from the Canucks organization and family.”
Kirk McLean played over 10 seasons in a Vancouver Canucks uniform from 1987-88 to 1997-98 setting regular season and playoff franchise records for games played, wins and shutouts.
Revered for his contributions in goal during the Canucks 1994 playoff run, McLean posted 15 wins and four shutouts through 24 games, helping lead Vancouver to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Vancouver’s power play, which had been red-hot against Colorado going 4-for-7 in two games this year, was stymied going 0-for-4; Ryan Kesler’s 100th goal puts him 246 back of Markus Naslund for the all-time franchise lead; Henrik Sedin suited up for the 437th straight game Wednesday night, he’s seven games back of Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester on the NHL’s current active ironman list.