Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin (20) fights for control of the puck with Vancouver Canucks Ryan Kesler during third period of NHL hockey action at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. Friday, Feb.15, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
VANCOUVER - Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler perhaps provided the only positive that could be taken out of his team’s 4-3 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues at Rogers Arena on Sunday.
In just his second game back after recovering from surgeries to his shoulder and wrist, Kesler opened his account this season early in the first period after being set up by twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
His goal followed the assist he recorded in Friday night’s 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars–a game in which the Canucks also surrendered a lead.
Vancouver (8-3-3) has now lost two straight games, which is hardly ideal preparation for the upcoming four-game road trip that includes stops in Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and Detroit.
After the game, St. Louis head coach Ken Hitchcock said the Canucks were a stronger side now that Kesler, a former Selke Trophy winner, was back playing.
“There’s a big difference,”Hitchcock noted.“There’s a big match-up problem now with him.
“They play on the inside now, they are not a perimeter team, they are going to be awful difficult to play against.”
Kesler wasn’t the only Vancouver player to find the net for the first time this season on Sunday.
Fresh from breaking the Canucks’all-time scoring record on Friday night, Henrik Sedin finally broke through for his first tally in 2013 in the dying stages of the first period, a goal which gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead.
But that’s where the good news ended.
Roberto Luongo was given the start on Sunday and didn’t fare much better than fellow goalie Cory Schneider did against the Stars.
While Luongo preserved his perfect record in regulation this season, his career shootout record dropped to 30-36 after he failed to stop T.J. Oshie and Andy McDonald.
And the veteran netminder–who finished with 20 saves—felt he could have done better on St. Louis’first two goals of the game.
"The first two goals, I got to make better plays,”he admitted afterwards.“I got caught a little bit off balance on the first one and usually I don't fall over like that.
“I was trying to get some depth and it was a moving shot so I should have made the save deeper there and be able to recover on the save.
“On the second one, I got caught up on my post. Those are two mistakes by me I needed to clean up. Other than that, I felt good, I had jump. But definitely two mistakes there.”