Kesler leads Canucks past Hurricanes 3-2

calexander@newsobserver.comDecember 1, 2013 

— The Carolina Hurricanes had their fans standing and roaring early in the second period Sunday at PNC Arena.

Jordan Staal scored. Ten seconds later, Nathan Gerbe scored.

But the cheers soon were silenced by the Vancouver Canucks. Ryan Kesler scored his second goal of the game a few moments later and Eddie Lack was good enough in net as the Canucks took a 3-2 victory.

Kesler's second score came 27 seconds after Gerbe struck for the Canes. It gave the Canucks the 3-2 lead and was the winner as Vancouver thwarted the Hurricanes on six power plays, blocked 23 shots and made the gritty plays that decide close games.

Another slow start was costly for the Canes (10-12-5). Kesler and Tom Sistito scored and the Canucks (14-10-5), a day after a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers, limited Carolina to four shots in the opening period in taking a 2-0 lead.

"It was not a good start at all," Jordan Staal said. "We were getting outworked. They were coming off a tough loss in New York and came out strong in the first period and we were not ready for it."

Why? Hard to say. The Canes also were beaten 5-2, by the New Jersey Devils, on Friday.

"They pushed us out of the first period," Canes coach Kirk Muller said. "They won all the battles, they were more competitive, they owned it around our net in the first period. We had one shot from our forwards in the first period. All that stuff adds up. It's not good enough."

Early in the second, Jordan Staal took a shot from the right wing, then crashed the net to jam the puck past Lack at 39 seconds of the period. After the ensuing faceoff, Eric Staal drove the net with the puck and Gerbe followed up with a tight-angle shot that beat Lack, who had 29 saves in his third win of the season.

But the Canucks quickly countered. Forward Chris Higgins carried the puck behind the Canes net and centered, and Kesler came off the end boards and beat Eric Staal to the post to score his 12th of the year.

"That's tough. You shouldn't allow that," Gerbe said of the Canucks' goal. "It kills the momentum. But it was good we fought back after a tough first period.”

Kesler's first goal came on a 5-on-3 power play after the Canes' Drayson Bowman was called for boarding and defenseman Mike Komisarek lifted the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty. Sestito's goal came when he crowded Canes goalie Cam Ward in the crease and got a piece of Jason Garrison's shot.

Vancouver has the NHL's top-ranked penalty killers and they got the job done. The Canes, trailing 3-2, had six minutes of power-play time in one second-period sequence but couldn't score, and another two power plays in the third.

On the Canes' final power play of the game, defenseman Justin Faulk winged a shot from the point that was redirected. The puck hit the post, bounced around and was trickling toward the goal line behind Lack, only to have Canucks forward Alexander Burrows alertly corral it.

Burrows had left the ice bleeding in the second -- one of several players hit by pucks or sticks during the game.

Muller appeared frustrated and irked about the Canes' power-play failures after the game.

"It's two things -- it's desperation and it's execution," Muller said. "The guys have to execute. And if they can't execute, I guess we have to start looking for other guys in our lineup and give them the opportunity.

"It's a matter of getting the job done, do it at a higher tempo, outworking the P.K. and making the plays. I don't know. Maybe some of our guys can't make the plays."

Alexander: 919-829-8945 Twitter: @ice_chip

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