Kesler lifts Canucks over Blues in OT
Thanks in large part to center Ryan Kesler, the Vancouver Canucks' longest road trip of the season proved to be very successful.
Kesler scored his second goal of the game at 4:45 of overtime to lift the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. The Canucks went 5-1-1 on their seven-game trip.
''Day by day, it's a really good trip,'' Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. ''Throughout the trip, we won in different ways.
''We kept our composure. We handled ourselves and stayed within ourselves. We know how long this trip has been.''
The Blues agreed with Tortorella's assessment.
''They were playing their game, and they were right into it,'' Blues forward David Backes said. ''It took a while for us to wake up. It's not acceptable. We needed two points.''
The Canucks let a two-goal advantage slip away but managed to get to overtime. When it looked as though the game was headed for a shootout, Vancouver took advantage of a mistake.
With 33.6 seconds left in the extra session, Patrik Berglund was sent off for hooking Canucks forward Daniel Sedin.
Vancouver controlled the ensuing faceoff and scored on the 4-on-3 advantage when Kesler got the puck down low in the slot and swatted it past goalie Jaroslav Halak.
Kesler has seven goals on the young season, but he isn't satisfied.
''I can always improve,'' Kesler said. ''I'm going to keep riding it. This trip has helped me a lot.''
Backup goalie Eddie Lack made 22 saves in the win. Chris Higgins had Vancouver's other goal, and Mike Santorelli added two assists.
Alexander Steen had a goal and an assist for St. Louis, and Vladimir Sobotka also scored.
The Blues played their first game in a week, and their layoff showed during much of the first two periods.
''We discussed it before the game,'' Steen said. ''There's no excuse for not coming out harder than we did, but as the game progressed, I thought we got into it more and started taking over.''
Higgins gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead with 2:49 left in the first period when he raced down left wing on a 3-on-2 rush and took a shot from the left circle. Defenseman Roman Polak slid down to block the shot, but he deflected it instead, and the puck sailed over Halak's left shoulder.
After Kesler made it 2-0 with a one-timer from the slot at 9:34 of the second period, the Blues got back in it by scoring on a 5-on-3 power play with 6.4 seconds left in the period.
T.J. Oshie got control of the puck deep in the left circle and sent a centering pass to Steen, who beat Lack with a one-timer.
Sobotka made it 2-2 with a shot from the right circle 1:38 into the third period.
''When they scored late in the second and early in the third, we kept our composure,'' Tortorella said. ''As the third went on, we changed the tide.''
NOTES: St . Louis played an NHL-low seven games in the first 22 days of the season. It marked the lightest schedule to begin a season in team history. ... Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, who entered the game tied for second in points with 15 and first in assists with 12, earned an assist on Kesler's game winner. ... The St. Louis Cardinals' Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso attended the game during an off day in the World Series and received a large ovation when they were shown on the video board.