The Vancouver Canucks took out nearly 22 years of frustration against the Philadelphia Flyers in one night.
The Canucks got a pair of goals by Ryan Kesler early in the second period and went on to rout Philadelphia 6-2 on Tuesday at Rogers Arena, ending a 14-game winless streak against the Flyers in Vancouver.
Philadelphia was 10-0-4 in Vancouver since Jan. 17, 1989, when the Canucks beat the Flyers 5-3 at Pacific Coliseum.
But the Canucks got a goal by Manny Malhotra late in a dominating first period, then broke the game open early in the second to improve to 12-1-2 in their last 15 games and move within one point of Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.
"It was a big test for us," said goaltender Roberto Luongo, who made 35 saves. "We want to measure ourselves against the best and we knew these guys were at the top and we wanted to come out and set a good tempo early and I think it was a huge first period that really carried us."
Kesler made it 2-0 when he beat Brian Boucher with a wrister from the top of the right circle 56 seconds into the second period. He got his second of the night on a slick deflection at 5:21, giving the Canucks a 4-1 lead and chasing Boucher.
"We're using our speed and playing the right way," said Kesler, who signed an offer sheet with the Flyers in September 2006 only to see the Canucks match it. "It's pretty fun playing with those guys and we're playing with a lot of confidence. The good thing with this group is that we're not satisfied with streak we're on. We want to get better."
Kesler nearly had his second hat trick in two weeks, but hit the crossbar 7:47 into the third period -- linemate Steve Tambellini knocked in the rebound for a 6-1 lead.
"Kesler does it all," Tambellini said. "He skates well, he battles hard on the puck, he shoots it well. He's becoming an overall, complete superstar."
Luongo headed to the airport after the game to fly to Florida, where his wife is due to give birth to their second child. He hopes to rejoin the team for Friday's game at Dallas.
"The only thing on his mind tonight was stopping that little black thing and he did a great job," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I didn't expect anything else from him."
The Flyers, beginning a tough week on the road after an eight-day break, were outshot 22-8 in the first period. Boucher kept them in the game with a great breakaway save off Alex Burrows, forced Tambellini and Daniel Sedin wide from close range in the opening four minutes, and stopped seven shots during one power play.
But the Canucks kept pressing, and Malhotra got the Canucks on the board when he tipped Christian Ehrhoff's shot behind Boucher at 15:46.
Kesler's 40-footer went off Boucher's right pad and into the net to make it 2-0, and Daniel Sedin hit a wide-open net at 2:30 after a great fake shot and pass by Burrows.
Daniel Briere got one goal back for the Flyers 59 seconds later, but Kesler tipped a soft shot by Henrik Sedin into the net less than two minutes after than to end Boucher's night.
Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, pulled during the Flyers' loss to Florida, took over for Boucher, who finished with 24 saves. Bobrovsky stopped all eight shots he faced in the second, but had no chance when Jannik Hansen's pass during a 2-on-1 rush went in off the skate of defenseman Braydon Coburn 51 seconds into the third.
"I think we had a pretty good game tonight," said Kesler, who extended his points streak (7-7-14) to eight games. "We started off strong and we continued it through 60 minutes. It was a pretty solid effort by everybody tonight."
After Tambellini's goal, Jeff Carter scored a power-play goal for the Flyers with 6:46 left to give them something to build on as they head for Southern California and games at Los Angeles on Thursday and Anaheim on New Year's Eve.
The Flyers had been 7-0-1 before they lost 5-0 at home to Florida in their last game on Dec. 20. They looked sluggish after their long break.
The Canucks "were more aggressive and they outhit us," coach Peter Laviolette said. "And faceoffs (Vancouver won 66 percent) to me are a telltale sign as to who's on their toes and ready to jump and who's not. So I guess it was a carryover, but for me, it all comes down to work ethic.
"Neither game is acceptable," Laviolette said. "There has to be a lot more intensity to what we do."