Kesler shootout tally lifts Canucks over Blackhawks

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 21, 2013
Ryan Kesler scored the deciding goal in an eight-round shootout, and the Vancouver Canucks rallied to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Friday night. Kesler fired a high shot past Antti Raanta to help Vancouver end a two-game losing streak. Mike Santorelli was successful in the first round as the Canucks improved to 2-4 in shootouts. Patrick Sharp had Chicago's only shootout score against Eddie Lack. Vancouver's Daniel Sedin tied it at 2 with 9:12 left in the third period. Zack Kassian also scored for the Canucks. Chicago's Patrick Kane scored his team-leading 21st goal and set up Kris Versteeg's score in regulation. Kane has six goals and 14 assists during an 11-game point streak, helping him climb into second in the NHL scoring race behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. He also has at least one point in 23 of his last 24 games. Lack and Raanta, a pair of rookie backup goalies, were sharp. Lack made 24 saves through overtime in his seventh start this season and the 10th game of his career. Raanta had 22 stops in his sixth straight start, all since Blackhawks No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford suffered a lower-body injury on Dec. 8. The Canucks were playing their second game in two nights and third in four overall. But it also was a good time for Vancouver to turn to Lack after top goaltender Roberto Luongo gave up soft goals at critical times in the previous two games, both losses. Lack entered in the second period of Vancouver's 4-1 loss at Dallas on Thursday after Luongo allowed four goals on 19 shots. The Canucks killed all four Chicago power plays to improve to 30 for their last 31 on the penalty kill. Vancouver, which entered with the NHL's best penalty-killing percentage, ended Chicago's string of power-play goals in 10 straight games. Raanta made a pad save on Chris Higgins on a breakaway 6:12 into the game. The Canucks then had trouble clearing the puck from their zone and the Blackhawks took advantage. Versteeg opened the scoring at 7:49 on a deflection of Kane's shot from just inside the right point. Leveraging two power plays, the Canucks dominated early in the second and launched the first nine shots of the period. Raanta stopped them all during the flurry, including Sedin's deflection from the slot. Kane then capitalized on Chicago's first chance in the period to make it 2-0 at 4:57. Lack stopped Johnny Oduya's drive from left wing, but Kane jumped on the rebound. Kassian cut to 2-1 at 8:19 when he snapped off a shot from the right circle. It sailed between the legs of Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook and past a screened Raanta. Santorelli had a chance to end the game in overtime but he hit the side of the net, just wide of the right post, after he broke in alone. NOTES: The Blackhawks recalled veteran G Jason LaBarbera from Rockford of the AHL. With Crawford still out, Chicago acquired LaBarbera from Edmonton last week. ... Vancouver was without injured D Alex Edler (knee, eighth game) and D Ryan Stanton (ankle, second game). ... Lack posted a shutout in his previous start, on Dec. 9 versus Carolina.
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