VANCOUVER – Ryan Kesler’s 100th career goal was hardly a work of art, but it was quite valuable to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday night.
Kesler’s shot was originally saved by Peter Budaj, but it took a strange bounce off the Colorado goaltender and went into the net.
That turned out to be the winning goal as the Canucks ended a four-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory over the Avalanche.
“I went top corner, he made an unbelievable save,” Kesler said.
“It should have went in in the first place. I got lucky but (it was) well deserved by me.”
Budaj’s bid to stop the puck knocked it high in the air and Kelser’s linemate Jeff Tambellini swiped at it when it came down.
A video review confirmed Tambellini didn’t touch the puck with a high stick.
“It’s not that big a deal,” said Kesler who signed a US$30-million, six-year contract extension last season where he had a 25-goal, 75-point campaign.
“Obviously it’s a nice milestone. It’s all from hard work. Our line’s been working hard and it’s good to get a greasy one like that.”
Tambellini, playing his first game since being recalled from the AHL Manitoba Moose, said he knew he hit something hard as he swooped by the net.
“I wasn’t sure whether it was the puck,” Tambellini said. “I figured it out it was his head. I wasn’t sure what happened, it happened so fast.”
Budaj, who replaced Craig Anderson after the first period when the starter injured his groin, thought Tambellini hit his mask.
“The puck went in, he never touched it,” Budaj said. “It’s just a tough way to get scored on.”
The Canucks scored all their goals at even strength, which had become a challenge over their losing streak.
Kevin Bieksa opened the scoring to ensure Vancouver didn’t give up the first goal for the fifth straight game.
Daniel Sedin, with his club-leading 13th, and Alex Burrows also counted for Vancouver.
The Avalanche also got offence from the blue-line as John-Michael Liles gave Colorado a 1-1 tie with his fourth goal in six games.
Matt Duchene, who led all rookies in scoring last season, jammed another puck past Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo as the Avalanche closed to within a goal in the third period.
The win moved Vancouver into a tie atop the Northwest Division with Colorado as the Canucks improved to 11-7-3 with their first home victory in three games.
The Avalanche failed to extend their win streak to a fifth game and dropped to 12-8-1.
“It’s tough,” Duchene said of losing three straight to the Canucks this season. “Every game against them has been close.
“We weren’t as consistent as we should have been. We’ve just got to stick to our game a little bit more.”
Vancouver’s top line clicked with two goals as Daniel and Henrik Sedin (two assists) hit the scoresheet after two pointless games.
“We had a lot of chances right off the bat,” said Burrows who scored his second goal of the season after missing 10 games recovering from shoulder surgery.
“Hank and Danny made a few plays and we had some shots off the rush with defencemen coming in.
“I thought we played much better. We kept our shifts shorter. Everybody worked hard and it showed … we were a bit faster than them tonight.”
In addition to losing Anderson who also missed 10 games with a knee injury, Colorado also lost veteran defenceman Adam Foote who hurt a leg in a corner collision with Tambellini.
“Peter (Budaj) came in and played fine,” said Avalanche coach Joe Sacco. “I don’t think there was any issue there.
“When you lose one defenceman, you’re down to five so that changes the chemistry a little bit back there. But I’d say overall we just weren’t good enough tonight.”
A pre-game ceremony saw Kirk McLean, who played 10 seasons in goal for the Canucks, inducted into the club’s Ring of Honour as part of Vancouver’s 40th anniversary season.
McLean led the Canucks to Game 7 of the 1994 Stanley Cup final and had a franchise-record 211 wins.
Notes:Tambellini had 11:14 of ice time … Vancouver won the first two meetings between the teams, 4-3 in overtime here and 3-1 in Denver … Canuck defenceman Keith Ballard was back on the blue-line after missing two games with the flu … teammate Alex Bolduc is skating again after suffering a high ankle sprain.