VANCOUVER – Ryan Kesler’s bank shot stood as the winning goal Thursday as the Vancouver Canucks defeated the New York Rangers 3-0 in a rare meeting between the two teams.
Linemate Byron Ritchie carried the puck deep into the Rangers zone and Kesler recovered it in the corner to the left of goalie Steve Valiquette. He then fired the puck along the goal line and it went in off the netminder, who was making his eighth appearance in the New York net this season.
The goal came came after the Canucks had been bottled up in their own end for the first shift of the second period. Valiquette slammed his stick on the ice in disgust.
Meanwhile, Roberto Luongo was his usual stingy self in the Vancouver goal.
Luongo, who had a 210-minute shutout streak earlier this season, made 28 saves for his sixth shutout of the season and 38th of his career.
Daniel Sedin and Jason Jaffray added goals in the last three minutes of the game.
The victory enabled the Canucks to improve to 23-14-4 and stay atop the tight Northwest Division. The clubs hadn’t met since 2005 when Vancouver won at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers, who last defeated the Canucks here 10 years ago when Wayne Gretzky had a hat trick, dropped to 20-17-4.
Vancouver now has points in 13 straight home games (11-0-2) after a 1-6 start at GM Place.
Sedin converted a two-on-one with brother Henrik for his 19th goal of the season and seventh in the last nine games at 16:56 of the third period.
Jaffray tipped Willie Mitchell’s point shot 34 seconds later for the only power-play goal of the game.
The Canucks generated little offence, were outshot 21-9 after 40 minutes but took a 1-0 lead into the third period.
Luongo bailed out his teammates twice on break-ins during the first period.
He made a pad save on Chris Drury on a two-on-one break-in and outwaited Martin Straka who was in alone after blocking Byron Ritchie’s shot during a Vancouver power play. The Vancouver netminder was solid again when Vancouver killed off a four-minute penalty to Kesler who high-sticked defenceman Dan Girardi when he tried to go around him.
Jaromir Jagr came close early in the third period when his shot grazed the outside of the far post. Luongo then stuck out his right pad to foil Marcel Hossa.
Notes: Ryan Hollweg of the Rangers and Canuck Mike Brown began the game with a spirited scrap … Brendan Shanahan, the Rangers’ leading scorer with 15 goals, was scratched because of a neck sprain … Canuck Trevor Linden is the last remaining roster member from the seven-game 1994 Stanley Cup final between the two clubs … both teams were coming off road losses to the Calgary Flames … the Rangers end their three-game Western Canada swing Saturday in Edmonton.