VANCOUVER, B.C. – Ryan Kesler took a big hit and then scored a big goal for the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Kesler shook off a first-period leg injury to score the game-winner for Vancouver as the Canucks beat the Oilers 4-1 to extend Edmonton’s losing streak to six games. “It was a tweaked leg,” said Kesler, declining to disclose more details, after he took a hard check in the first the Oilers’ Ryan Stone that had him hopping to the Vancouver bench.
“He’s a dirty player,” said Kesler. “I thought it was (a cheap shot).”
The Canucks (22-16-0) posted their third victory in four meetings with the Oilers this season and moved into sole possession of eighth place in the tight Western Conference.
Daniel Sedin also scored in the second for Vancouver, while Christian Ehrhoff and Henrik Sedin added two more in the third as the Canuck finished their eight-game homestand with a 6-2 record.
Henrik Sedin’s empty-net goal with 36 seconds left in the game moved him into a tie for second place in the NHL scoring race with Marian Gaborik of the New York Rangers. He also had an assist while Daniel added two of his own.
“Individual success comes from team success,”said Kesler of Henrik Sedin’s rise up the scoring chart. “He’s playing well for us, and he’s helping the team win.”
After a scoreless first period, the Canucks led 2-0 after the second on power-play goals 18 seconds apart by Daniel Sedin and Kesler.
“I thought the intensity and the execution was much better in the second period and our power play, obviously, got us on the right track,” said Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault.
The Canucks wound up going 2-for-6 on man-advantage situations while the Oilers were blanked on three chances.
“It was a different way to the same end, I guess,” said Edmonton coach Pat Quinn. “Lately our penalty killing has not done a very good job. There always seems to be loose pucks around the front. It was kind of the same (Saturday).
“The result at the end of the game was another loss and they’re getting tough to handle.”
Ryan Potulny had the lone goal for the Oilers (15-19-4) but it was his miscue that led to Kesler’s winner.
With the game still scoreless, he shot the puck over the glass from deep in the defensive zone to take a delay-of-game penalty and give the Canucks a 5-on-3 advantage.
“You can’t afford to make mistakes when you’re in a rut like we are,” said Potulny.
Daniel Sedin opened the scoring off a pass from Henrik, firing a shot in off Oilers defenceman Sheldon Souray.
Only 18 seconds later and with Potulny still in the box, Kesler deflected Alex Edler’s point shot to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead.
Potulny got Edmonton on the board, backhanding home a sharp-angled shot off Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo’s shoulder at 11:22 of the second, but the Oilers could get no closer.
Ehrhoff gave the Canucks a 3-1 advantage early in the third, after he took a pass from Rick Rypien on a rush and roofed a backhander over Edmonton netminder Jeff Deslauriers.
“Right now we can just try to take some positives out of it,” said Deslauriers. “The situation is not pretty right now for us but we need to find something to turn it around.”
Notes: Canucks centre Ryan Johnson sat out with a sore foot. … Vancouver defenceman Mathieu Schneider remains out of the lineup for what GM Mike Gillis calls “personal reasons.’ Several reports have speculated that Schneider, 40, is contemplating retirement because he is unhappy with his limited playing time. … Edmonton’s Mike Comrie missed his 18th straight game due to mononucleosis. … Vancouver tough guy Darcy Hordichuck returned to the lineup after sitting out three straight as a healthy scratch. … Oilers winger Dustin Penner needs one more game for 300 in his career.