Ryan Kesler needed a lucky bounce and an empty net for the easiest Vancouver goal of the season.
It’s the kind of break a team needs sometimes to win on the road.
And just the latest blunder that has Philadelphia mired at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Kesler followed the empty-netter with the second of his two goals with 2:25 left in the third period to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
The Canucks won for the second time this season when trailing after two periods.
”You want to get those under your belt early and establish yourself as a resilient group,” Kesler said. ”We did that again tonight.”
Chris Higgins also scored for Vancouver and Roberto Luongo made the win stand with 20 saves.
Tye McGinn scored both goals for the Flyers, who dropped to 1-6. The Flyers are the only team in the NHL that has yet to score at least three goals in a game this season.
Higgins and Kesler and each scored in the third period to rally Vancouver. The Flyers fell to 1-3 under coach Craig Berube.
”We’re kind of sitting back and waiting for something bad to happen,” Berube said.
It did in the third. Higgins fired a shot off Steve Mason and Kesler pounced to score past the sprawled Flyers’ goalie for the winner.
The Canucks tied it 2-2 early in the third when Henrik Sedin fed Higgins for a one-timer and his first goal of the season.
Each team struggled to generate offense. The Canucks failed to crack 20 shots until midway through the third and the Flyers didn’t attempt their 20th until the final minutes. The Flyers took only one shot on two power-play attempts, and their special teams unit ranks among the worst in the league.
”We are scared to make something happen on the ice,” Flyers forward Jakub Voracek.
Armed with one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the NHL, the Flyers almost broke through early in the first, but Claude Giroux’s shot rang off the post. Giroux, once one of the best players in the game, has yet to score this season, though he did pick up his second assist on McGinn’s second goal.
”We are getting better every game, that’s how we all look at it. It’s a fact,” Giroux said. ”If anybody knows anything about hockey, they’ll know we played a good game tonight. We played our best game, and it’s a good thing coming right now.”
McGinn has been impressive since the Flyers brought him up last week. With forwards Scott Hartnell and Vinny Lecavalier out with injuries, the Flyers turned to McGinn and pressed him into service on Giroux’s line.
He scored against Detroit in his first game back, then showed against Vancouver that he has a knack for positioning himself in the right place at the right time.
McGinn backhanded a rebound midway through the first for a 1-0 lead.
Philadelphia’s lead lasted all of 10 seconds. Mason skated behind the net and tried to clear the puck, but it took a funky carom past him and right to a streaking Kesler, who pounded the puck into the empty net for the easy, tying goal.
”I didn’t see it until it was in the blue paint,” he said. ”It’s just one of those bounces.”
Mason stopped 22 shots — just not the one he never saw coming.
”Bad bounces happen,” he said. ”It’s just how you respond, and I thought for the most part, we played a pretty good game.”
McGinn made it 2-1 only 2:10 into the second when he finished off a rush with a poke past Luongo for his third goal of the season. McGinn has a chance to stick around with Hartnell out another two to four weeks with an undisclosed injury.
By the time Hartnell and Lecavalier return, the Flyers season could be unsalvageable. Giroux said it’s too early to give up on the season.
”We’ll start winning games here soon, and when we will, we’ll be back in the playoff race,” he said.
NOTES: Several Flyers sported pink tape as part of ”Hockey Fights Cancer” night. … The Canucks opened a seven-game road trip, which ends Oct. 25 in St. Louis. … Sedin scored his 800th career point. … Vancouver is 3-0 when it allows three goals or less. … Vancouver won 20 of 35 faceoffs.