The Vancouver Canucks made a rare visit to an uninspiring Eastern Conference outpost, and a Western Conference playoff game broke out. Something like that.

As coach John Tortorella said a few days ago: “You just never know how it works.”

Without much feel for or emotional investment in their opponent before Sunday's game, the Canucks played the Carolina Hurricanes in a nasty, abrasive, ill-tempered matinee.

Vancouver won 3-2 on Ryan Kesler's second goal of the game, outstanding penalty-killing and a great save by winger Alex Burrows in the third period.

Less than 24 hours earlier, the Canucks displayed little emotion – or execution – after falling behind early against the New York Rangers, losing 5-2 in Tortorella's return to Manhattan and Ranger coach Alain Vigneault's first game against the team that fired him last spring. Vancouver penalty-killing was lousy.

“It wasn't our prettiest game, but it was a lot grittier than we have been, especially in New York,” Canuck centre Brad Richardson said. “They had some good chances, but we got it done. I think it helps when their guy runs Kevin over. That kind of got us going a little bit.”

Hurricane Drayson Bowman dangerously boarded Canuck defenceman Kevin Bieksa two minutes into the game. Bowman was assessed only a minor penalty, although he could have received a major and game misconduct for either boarding or charging.

After going after Bowman, while Canuck heavyweight Tom Sestito fought Hurricane Jay Harrison, Bieksa went to the medical room to have his neck and shoulder examined. He soon returned.