Monday, February 25, 2008

Wonderboy had a great game!

Ryan Kesler's only job was to shut down Detroit's top line of Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom.

Scoring - especially twice on great individual efforts against the team he grew up cheering for - was, in Kesler's words, "awesome."

Kesler scored twice on individual rushes in the third period and Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots, lifting the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 win over the injury-ravaged Detroit Red Wings Saturday night.

"I'm playing with some confidence but I know first and foremost my job is to shut down the other team's top offensive guys and being able to score a couple is just a bonus," Kesler said. "Those guys are hard to shut down, they're really shifty, great one-on-one guys and to have them on the minus side of things was awesome."

Defensemen Alexander Edler and Sami Salo also scored as the Canucks won their fourth straight for the first time this season, moving into a tie with San Jose, Calgary and Nashville for fifth place in the Western Conference, four points ahead of ninth-place Colorado.

“We’re getting rewarded for our hard play, and again tonight we had a real solid effort form our whole group," said Coach Alain Vigneault who was clearly impressed with the effort. "Obviously Kesler did a great job on their top line and was also able to contribute offensively in the third, and Roberto made the key saves that he had to make, it was an all around a solid effort.”

Kesler stripped defenseman Brett Lebda of the puck at the Canucks blueline and raced the other way, tucking the puck between Jimmy Howard's legs on the breakaway 3:31 into the third period. He rounded out the scoring with three minutes left, keeping the puck on a 2-on-1 break and beating Howard between the legs again.

"It worked the first time might as well try it the second time," said Kesler, who grew up in Livonia, Mich. "Playing against a team I watched growing up, there was a little extra motivation."

Datsyuk scored the lone goal for the Red Wings, who are 1-7-1 their last nine games and have had their lead atop the Western Conference trimmed to six points over the Dallas Stars.

"We've gone through the same thing, we know what they re feeling right now and it's a dog-eat-dog world I guess," Kesler said. "So we tried to jump on them right away and put them on their heels as much as possible."

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