Kesler leads the Canucks, the Isles storm back and Duchene dazzles in our morning recap.
You were out last night dressed as a pumpkin, weren’t you? Well, here’s what you missed in six Friday night tilts.
Essential Water Cooler
The depth-challenged Canucks are rolling, and look no further than Ryan Kesler to explain the surge. With two goals on eight shots against the Blues on Friday, including the OT winner, Kesler’s four goals and three assists in his past four games have lifted the Canucks to three straight wins and a share of the Pacific division lead. Given the drop-off in talent in Vancouver’s forward unit after the Sedins and Kesler, John Tortorella’s group won’t succeed without all three big guns firing. While off-season additions Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli have enjoyed surprisingly productive starts, their numbers will inevitably taper back to bottom-six levels, meaning Kesler’s production will carry greater weight throughout the year. So far in 2013-14, he’s resembled the 41-goal, 73-point scorer of 2010-11. Now, for a player who played only 17 games a season ago, the key is staying healthy.
Even though Jeff Skinner didn’t dress for the Canes, there did appear to be a former figure skater on the ice. Matt Duchene spun away from Mike Komisarek, then bought himself a clear path to the net with an unexpected twirl that fooled Riley Nash and Justin Peters.
Men of the Night
Radek Martinek, NY Islanders: After signing with the team on Wednesday in the wake of a concussion to Lubomir Visnovsky, the 37-year-old Martinek pitched in with two assists to help the Isles come from behind to down the Pens.
Frans Nielsen, NY Islanders: With a second straight three-point effort, including an assist on the game-winner, Nielsen vaulted himself into a tie for fourth in league scoring, knotted with Steven Stamkos at 14 points. (I’m no Dobber, but sell high, poolies.)
Jhonas Enroth, Buffalo: It was as though his Sabres teammates did all they could to stay out of the win column, allowing the Panthers an 18-4 edge in shots in the first period and 45-21 overall, but the 5-foot-10 Swede stopped all but one, backstopping his club to its second victory of the season.
Matt Duchene, Colorado: With a goal and an assist on top of his stylish spinning tally, Duchene propelled the Avs to their league-leading ninth win.
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver: The Olympic hopeful batted home his second goal of the game to propel the Canucks over the Blues in the extra frame.
Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus: Two points for the Alaskan, including a shorthanded rocket over Jonathan Bernier’s glove in the third period to seal the victory over the Leafs.
Better Luck Next Time
The Penguins allowed three Islander goals in the final 7:14 of the third period, surrendering leads of 2-1 and 3-2 as the Isles stormed back to snatch two points from their division foes. The Pens dictated much of the contest, holding a 42-25 edge in shots, and failed to cash in on all five power play opportunities.