NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Ryan Kesler is finding his scoring touch, and that is very good news for the Vancouver Canucks.
Kesler scored a pair of third period goals, leading the Canucks to a 3-1 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Kesler has four goals in his last two games. With the game tied at 1 in the third, he scored twice from just outside the Nashville crease.
“It was a battle and there wasn’t a lot of room out there, but we found a way to win again, and that’s what we need to keep doing,” Kesler said. “You’ve got to fight to get to those tough areas and we did tonight.”
Kesler scored his first at 7:37.
From the left side, Jason Garrison’s slap shot was stopped by Nashville goaltender Marek Mazanec, but Kesler outmuscled Nashville’s David Legwand for the rebound and beat Mazanec with a wrist shot.
“Both teams were playing, and we were matched pretty evenly,” Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. “It came down to who was more detailed, disciplined, and who was winning all of those 1-on-1 battles.”
Kesler struck again at 14:15.
With the Canucks on a power play, Kesler collected the rebound of another shot by Garrison in the low slot and backhanded it past Mazanec.
“Kesler has been playing really well, he was probably our best player tonight,” Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. “He put us on his shoulders there and I thought led the way.”
Brad Richardson also scored for Vancouver, which has won three of four.
Colin Wilson scored for Nashville, losers of three straight.
Richardson scored the game’s first goal at 15:24 of the second period.
From the goal line to the right of the Nashville net, Richardson passed to Dale Weise in the right circle. Weise’s shot was stopped by Mazanec, but the rebound came right to Richardson, and he banked in a shot off of Mazanec’s left leg pad.
On the same day he was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November, Mazanec made his 11th straight start in goal for the Predators.
Wilson answered back just 30 seconds after Richardson’s goal.
Skating through the slot, Patric Hornqvist slid a nice pass to Wilson on the right post. From there, Wilson had an easy tap-in past Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo for his fifth goal of the season.
“It was a typical game that we play against these guys; low-scoring, tight checking game,” Luongo said. “It was tough to get the lead and give it up 30 seconds later, but guys stuck with it. We had a big third period and the power-play goal was huge for us there.”
Wilson has scored in consecutive games for the first time this season.
“It’s good to get that goal,” Wilson said. “I felt we still had a chance in the third. We have to start scoring.”
After missing three games with an upper-body injury, Hornqvist has an assist in each of his last two games.
Vancouver defenceman Alexander Edler did not return to the game after the first period. Tortorella said that Edler had a lower-body injury and is day to day.
NOTES: Nashville D Shea Weber missed his second consecutive game with an eye injury. The team said he’s day to day. … The Predators had not allowed a power-play goal against in their previous eight games. … The Canucks said left winger Alex Burrows suffered a broken jaw during Sunday’s 3-2 win at Carolina, and will be out for at least four weeks. … Vancouver concluded a four-game road trip and now heads home for their next five games.