Kesler scores hat trick for Canucks win

Ryan Kesler found a positive spin to giving up a third-period

lead. The Vancouver Canucks’ meltdown gave him a chance to finally

complete his first NHL hat trick.

Kesler, who had 12 previous two-goal games, scored a power-play

goal 1:30 into overtime to lift the Canucks to a 3-2 victory over

the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

With Columbus defenseman Jan Hejda serving a boarding penalty,

Kesler took a pass from Daniel Sedin on a 2-on-1 break down low and

fired a quick shot over the outstretched pad of goalie Mathieu

Garon.

”It just felt good to get it off my back,” said Kesler, who

has three other two-goal games this season. ”I was sniffing for a

while to get that third one, not only this year but last

year.”

Roberto Luongo made 28 saves, and Sedin extended his point

streak to nine games on the winning goal as Vancouver improved to

7-1-1 its last nine games.

But the real story was Kesler, who opened the scoring late in

the first period, put the Canucks ahead on a breakaway midway

through the second, and ending things with his 15th goal of the

season in overtime.

”He certainly was the best player on the ice,” Columbus coach

Scott Arniel said. ”Sometimes he gets overshadowed by other

players on the team but his speed and his skill are real

dangerous.”

Tom Sestito tied it with his first NHL goal and point on a power

play 7:34 into the third period, parking his 6-foot-5, 228-pound

frame atop the crease and deflecting Mike Commodore’s low point

shot past Luongo. Derick Brassard also scored, and Garon finished

with 27 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have two wins in 10 games

(2-5-3).

Columbus rallied for a second straight game to earn a point

before losing in overtime.

”We’ve shown there’s a lot of heart on this team, and we’re

right there,” Sestito said. ”It’s close, and hopefully we start

getting two points.”

Kesler opened the scoring with 22.9 seconds left in the first

period, shortly after Luongo made a great right pad save off Derek

Dorsett on a 3-on-1. Kesler, robbed on a partial breakaway five

minutes earlier, took a drop pass from Alex Edler, and snapped a

20-foot wrist shot past Garon’s blocker.

”He’s a great shooter,” said Garon, who got the start after

replacing Steve Mason after two goals just 4:25 into Monday’s 3-2

overtime loss at Calgary.

Brassard tied it after a turnover created a 2-on-1 down low with

Rick Nash, but Kesler added his second two minutes later. This time

the puck bounced over Rostislav Klesla’s stick in his end, sending

Kesler in alone.

”The second one was kind of luck,” Kesler said. ”It did seem

like the puck was magnetized to my stick. It’s one of those games

you feel good out there.”

Columbus had two great chances to tie it early in the third. But

Kesler made a diving pokecheck to take a great chance away from

Brassard in the slot 90 seconds into the period, and Jakub Voracek

shot a backhander off the post on a breakaway after deking Luongo

to the ice 30 seconds later.

The Blue Jackets tied it when their 29th-ranked power-play unit

connected. Columbus was held without a shot on its first two

advantages, but needed only 10 seconds on its third when Sestito

was left alone in front.

”It was a big relief,” said Sestito, playing his third game

this season and seventh in his NHL career. ”It’s my first one, and

it feels a little better that it’s one to help the team.”

NOTES: Columbus LW Kristian Huselius returned after missing 22

games because of a high ankle sprain. … Klesla played his 500th

NHL game, all with Columbus. … Dorsett left the game midway

through the second period with what Arniel labeled a lower-body

injury, and will be re-evaluated before Thursday’s game in

Edmonton. … Sedin has four goals and nine assists during his

point streak.