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Kesler's OT goal pushes tired Canucks past rusty Blues

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS -- Playing their fifth game in seven nights Friday, the Vancouver Canucks were a tired hockey team looking forward to ending a seven-game trip and finally getting home.

The St. Louis Blues were a rusty team, having gone a week since their last game, a strange quirk in the schedule.

At least on this night, it was better to be tired than rusty.

Ryan Kesler's second goal of the game with 15 seconds left in overtime lifted the Canucks to a 3-2 win over the Blues.

The power-play goal came after the Blues' Patrik Berglund was called for hooking with 33 seconds left in overtime and gave the Canucks their fifth win on the trip.

"We've been playing well," Kesler said. "This trip has really helped me a lot. We needed that. Our power play won us the game tonight."

The overtime goal allowed Vancouver to come away with the win after seeing the Blues rally from a 2-0 deficit to send the game to overtime.

"When they scored late in the second and scored early in the third, we kept our composure," said Vancouver coach John Tortorella. "As the third went on, we changed the tide. Throughout the trip, we won in different ways. We kept our composure. We handled ourselves very well and stayed within ourselves. We know how long this trip has been."

St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock was worried how his team would react to playing its first game after the long layoff, and his fears were justified.

"My worries were there," Hitchcock said. "Vancouver was dead in the third period, all they were doing was dumping the puck in for flipping it out, they were really tired and we couldn't get the third goal. Hopefully this is a good wakeup call."

Backup goalie Eddie Lack, playing just his third NHL game, had to stop only eight St. Louis shots through the first 30 minutes of the game as the Blues had trouble getting going after their unusually long layoff, part of which was spent on a team-bonding trip to Charleston, S.C.

Two Canucks penalties 31 seconds apart late in the second period gave the Blues a two-man advantage and they scored with seven seconds left in the period. The power-play goal by Alexander Steen was his eighth goal of the season, matching his season total in 40 games last year.

The Blues began the third period with 1:36 left on the power play but needed two more seconds after the penalty expired before Vladimir Sobotka scored the tying goal on an assist from Steen.

The Canucks had built a 1-0 lead on a first-period goal by Chris Higgins, whose shot deflected off the leg of St. Louis defenseman Roman Polak past goalie Jaroslav Halak at 17:11 of the period.

A turnover by Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in front of his own net set up the second Vancouver goal, from Kesler, at 9:34 of the second period.

"We had a week off and you can't start slow and dig holes like that and expect to dig out," said Blues captain David Backes. "We just need a better effort from all 20 guys for all 60 minutes. There's no excuse, we've had practices that were high tempo. We were warned about it, we talked about it. Tonight was unacceptable that we were not ready to go at the drop of the puck. "

NOTES: The Blues played only their eighth game of the season, the fewest in the NHL, and the Canucks played their 13th game, the most in the league. ... The Canucks recalled C Pascal Pelletier and RW Darren Archibald from Utica of the AHL because of injuries to RW Jannik Hansean, RW Dale Weise and LW David Booth. ... The Canucks were also without LW Alexandre Burrows, who has not played since the first game of the season because of a foot injury. ... The Canucks were playing the second half of back-to-back games and the Blues were on the front end of a back-to-back, traveling to Nashville on Saturday night.
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