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Canucks get three in third for 4-1 win over Rangers

by John Kreiser /
The injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks gave themselves a fine going-away present -- a hard-fought victory.

Mikael Samuelsson scored twice and Rick Rypien got the go-ahead goal with 11:12 remaining in regulation as the Canucks beat the New York Rangers 4-1 on Tuesday night at GM Place.

Vancouver is without All-Star goaltender Roberto Luongo and top-six forwards Daniel Sedin and Pavol Demitra. But it won for the second time in three nights at home before leaving on a five-game trip that begins Thursday in Minnesota.

"I think it showed we have a lot of character, a lot of grit and hard work," said forward Ryan Kesler, who set up the Canucks' first three goals.

Added defenseman Kevin Bieksa: "I think it showed we wanted this game a little bit more."

Just 2:24 after Chris Higgins tied the game with his first goal of the season, Kesler chased down a dump-in, carried around the net and into the left circle, then spotted Rypien flying down the right side. He hit the fourth-line forward with a perfect pass, and Rypien roofed a 10-footer over Henrik Lundqvist for his second goal of the season.

"I saw him break -- he came off the bench and no one saw him," said Kesler, who has 14 points in his last 14 games. "He made a great shot."

Rangers coach John Tortorella wasn't unhappy with his team's effort, but was very displeased with mistakes that were made at the wrong time.

"I believe we'll get our offense going," Tortorella said of an attack that has generated just five goals in four games. "I'm more concerned about situational play. When we tie the game up, we just don't do the job defensively. We made a couple of major mistakes at a key time in the game."

Samuelsson, whose goal late in the first period put the Canucks in front, gave Vancouver some breathing room when he whacked at a power-play rebound past Lundqvist with 5:47 left in regulation. Kesler picked up his third assist of the night on the play.

"Even after they scored, I thought we were playing real well," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I thought we played a real solid third period. We didn't give them much."

Henrik Sedin tapped in an empty-netter with 1:24 remaining for the final margin, capping a third period in which Vancouver outshot New York 12-5.

"I think we worked really hard the whole game and we stayed with it," Lundqvist said. "A couple of plays in the third was the difference."

The Canucks got a 22-save performance by Andrew Raycroft, who won for the third time in four starts since taking over for Luongo.

It was the Canucks' ninth victory in their last 10 meetings with the Rangers. New York is 0-5 in Vancouver since a 6-3 victory on Oct. 11, 1997.

In a game where open ice was hard to find, the Rangers paid for a defensive mistake late in the first period.

Defenseman Wade Redden had the puck behind his net and needlessly send it up the left boards. Kesler stepped in, picked off the pass and blasted away from the top of the right circle. Lundqvist stopped the shot but left the rebound in the slot for Samuelsson, who banged it between his legs and into the net at 18:43.

"I thought he saved it at first," Samuelsson said between periods.

That capped a period in which the Canucks outshot the Rangers 10-4 and completely muzzled the visitors.

The Rangers, playing the opener of a three-game swing through Western Canada, got their legs under them in the second period, outshooting the Canucks 14-8. Three of those shots came during a four-minute power play when Vancouver defenseman Shane O'Brien drew a double minor for high sticking Ryan Callahan.

Each team had three power plays in the first 40 minutes. The Rangers got a fourth as the result of a lengthy altercation during a line change 4:21 into the third period, when Kesler drew the only minor in a quintet of misconducts. They made it pay off when Higgins, from the slot, fired home Brandon Dubinsky's pass at 6:24, three seconds after the power play ended.

"The second period, I thought we started taking over the game," Tortorella said. "I thought we crawled back into it with a power-play goal. That's something that we have to get more consistent at, as far as our forecheck."

The Canucks' Kevin Bieksa handed the Rangers another power play when he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, but Vancouver killed off the advantage and needed less than 30 seconds to go in front for good.

"In a game like this, we just can't make the mistakes we made," Tortorella said.

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