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The Goods: Kesler instinct

Friday, 08.04.2011 / 1:41 AM / Features
By Derek Jory
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The Goods: Kesler instinct

On the fifth Vancouver Canucks goal of the night, hats rained down from the crowd and one fan even threw a pair of sunglasses on the ice.

They were symbolic of Ryan Kesler’s performance, one of his brightest of the season.

Prior to Vancouver’s 5-0 win over the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena Thursday night, team awards were handed out with Kesler named Most Exciting Player. He lived up to the hype recording his third career hat trick, one that included a goal scored in each period.

Kesler hit the 40-goal plateau on the night giving the Canucks a pair of 40-goal men for the first time since Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi hit the mark in 2002-03.

“It’s a funny game that way,” said Kesler, “you’re going to get lucky sometimes and tonight I’ve got to give credit to Daniel and Henrik on the first one and then Higgins, he found me wide-open with speed.”

Not far behind Kesler was Mason Raymond, who scored in the first and second but couldn’t put the finishing touches on his third career fill of the hat. Daniel Sedin was also in on the scoring picking up two assists to move five points ahead of Anaheim's Corey Perry in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.

To cap off a spellbinding final home game of the regular season, in which the Canucks were presented the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history, Roberto Luongo stopped all 29 shots faced for his 55th career shutout.

The blanking was his fourth of the year, a low total considering all the missed opportunities Luongo had to put up a donut only to be scored on in the dying minutes of the third period.

Kevin Bieksa joked post-game and it was nice Luongo could finally close a shutout out for himself, but in all seriousness, the Canucks netminder’s final regular season game of the year was a 60-minute gem, complete with an abundance of oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Luongo hasn’t given up more than three goals in regulation in his last 33 starts. That’s a stat so nice I’ll write it twice: Luongo hasn’t given up more than three goals in regulation in his last 33 starts.

“I was looking for something to let in near the end there, but nothing happened,” Luongo said, tongue-in-cheek, about preserving the shutout. “I don’t like shutouts anyways, they’re overrated, I’ve said all year long.”

Luongo was so certain his night would end with at least a single goal against, he and backup Cory Schneider made a wager between the second and third period.

Luckily for the Canucks, they both lost.

“Schneider and I did a pool after the second of who would break the shutout, he said Miettinen and I said Alex Edler,” grinned Luongo. “It didn’t end up happening, but sometimes you’ve got to joke about it, I haven’t had many this year and it was nice to get one.”

Alright, maybe he does like shutouts.

Either way, he’s on top of his game and so are the Canucks, who snapped a two-game losing streak in style.

One down, one to go. Vancouver visits Calgary Saturday night to end the regular season.

AND THE WINNER IS...

Surprises were not part of the Canucks team awards, presented pre-game by members of the Canucks alumni.

Daniel Sedin earned the Cyclone Taylor Trophy as the Canucks MVP, as voted by fans, for the first time in his career; he was also the recipient of the Cyrus H. McLean Trophy as the team’s leading scorer.

Other award winners included Roberto Luongo, who won the Molson Cup Trophy as the player with the most Three Stars nominations, Jannik Hansen capped off a career campaign as the team’s Unsung Hero with the Fred. J. Hume award.

And for the second consecutive season Christian Ehrhoff was presented the Walter “Babe” Pratt Trophy as Best Defenceman.

The Canucks were also presented with the Presidents’ Trophy and, to nearly everyone’s amazement, Manny Malhotra was on hand to accept it with Henrik Sedin.

”It’s good seeing him and it’s great that he’s around the team,” said Ryan Kesler. “He’s supporting us and we’re supporting him at the same time.”

NOTES

Alex Edler returned to the fold after missing 31 games following back surgery; Canucks forward Raffi Torres was not in the line-up Thursday as he sat out the first of a four-game suspension for a hit on Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle Tuesday; both Yann Sauve and Chris Tanev were re-assigned to Manitoba; Thursday Dan Hamhuis participated in Canucks morning skate for the first time since suffering a concussion six games ago.