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Ducks defeat Canucks in Kesler's return

by Kevin Woodley

VANCOUVER Ryan Kesler was disappointed to hear the boos directed his way, but happy to exit Vancouver with two points.

After being greeted with more jeers than cheers in his first trip to play the Vancouver Canucks since a trade to the Anaheim Ducks in June, Kesler was mostly just glad to be leaving again after a 4-3 shootout win at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

"Let's just say I'm glad it’s over with," Kesler said. "Get back to the sunshine and enjoy it. Get back home."

Corey Perry and Jakob Silfverberg scored shootout goals to allow the Ducks to head back to Southern California on a winning note.

But Kesler admitted it was hard to hear the fans at Rogers Arena turn on him.

"When you play somewhere 10 years, you expect something different," said Kesler, who was stopped in the second round of the shootout. "They paid for their tickets, they are allowed to do what they want to do. Does it hurt? Obviously when you play somewhere for 10 years and you give your heart and soul every night ... it is what it is."

It looked early on like Kesler and the Ducks might be in for an easy time against the Canucks, who were playing for the second straight night.

Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Getzlaf staked the Ducks to a 2-0 first-period lead, and the Canucks lost defenseman Dan Hamhuis to a lower-body injury 1:27 into the game. But the Canucks rallied with three straight goals in the second period to take the lead before Matt Beleskey tied it for the Ducks with 8:08 left in the third.

The win moved Anaheim two points ahead of Vancouver atop the Western Conference, but it was the second straight game in which the Ducks blew a two-goal lead before rallying late. It was the eighth time in the past 10 games Anaheim has gone to overtime.

"It's not the way we want to play," Perry said. "It wasn’t perfect, but we found a way to win. That’s what we have been trying to do. We’ve been getting our points, but two points was crucial in this game."

Perry opened the shootout with a backhand deke for a goal, and Silfverberg scored in the third round to end the game.

Frederik Andersen, who made 25 saves, stopped Nick Bonino, and Radim Vrbata lost the puck in the second round of the shootout, giving Silfverberg, who was robbed a couple of times earlier, a chance to end it.

Eddie Lack, making his first start since a 2-1 shootout win against the Ducks on Nov. 9, finished with 23 saves. The Canucks became the last NHL team to lose a one-goal game, falling to 7-1-0.

"I felt like I have to give the boys a better chance," Lack said. "I can’t let two of three in, and it's obviously something I am going to work on."

Rookie Bo Horvat scored his first NHL goal early in the second period, and Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata scored 30 seconds apart five minutes later.

Coming home off a 5-4 road win against the Edmonton Oilers the night before, the Canucks started without forward Alexandre Burrows, who was a late scratch with an upper-body injury, fell behind on the first shot 37 seconds in on a goal by Cogliano, and lost Hamhuis to a lower-body injury 50 seconds later.

Hamhuis caught his right toe on the back of teammate Daniel Sedin’s skate and didn't put weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice and into the locker room.

Hamhuis was signing autographs outside the Canucks' locker room in a suit after the game, but he didn’t talk and walked off with a heavy limp. Coach Willie Desjardins expects to be without Hamhuis.

"It was a tough one. Hamhuis is a key guy," he said. "So you’ve got to give the team credit. I thought they played hard. They found a way to come back in that second, which was huge, and then we sat back a little bit, maybe, in the third. But it’s not that we didn’t battle."

Horvat got the Canucks on the board after a Kesler turnover 3:08 into the second period.

Kesler lost the puck inside the Vancouver blue line, and the Canucks converted the ensuing rush when Derek Dorsett’s backhand pass from the bottom of the left circle went through two defenders to Horvat alone at the other side of the high slot. The 19-year-old rookie, selected ninth in the 2013 NHL Draft as part of a trade that sent goalie Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils, one-timed it past Andersen for his first point in his seventh game.

"It’s definitely something I’ll never forget," Horvat said. "I blacked out a little, but after that but I was definitely happy. You don’t really remember it too much. You get flashes of it, but you can’t remember the whole thing. You just so excited and the adrenaline’s rushing.

"You definitely want to win when you score your first NHL goal or you get your first point. But we battled hard tonight. We got a point and we just have to take the positives out of it.”

Hansen tied the game with a one-timer during a delayed penalty with 8:42 left in the second period, and Vrbata, who scored two power-play goals in Edmonton on Wednesday, put the Canucks ahead after being left all alone atop the Ducks crease on the next shift.

"They were the fresh team, but we didn’t give up," Vrbata said. "We didn’t want to sit back. We wanted to go after them. Too bad we couldn't find a fourth one in the second when we had momentum."

Instead, Sami Vatanen’s point shot hit Getzlaf, who was outside the crease, and Beleskey was able to sweep the loose puck past the outstretched left pad of Lack.

"Just trying to get to the net," Beleskey said. "We know how much is on him being here; a little mixed emotions from the crowd. It’s great to get that one for him."

Kesler, who turned down coach Bruce Boudreau’s invitation to take the opening faceoff, was happy the return trip is over.

"Just coming back to this city was emotionally draining," Kesler said. "I'm just happy it’s over."

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