As good as he was, we wondered how good he would be if Ryan Kesler actually scored, too. Now we know, and so do the Nashville Predators. The Vancouver Canucks' best player in these National Hockey League playoffs — even goal-less through his first nine games in the Stanley Cup tournament — scored twice, including the overtime winner, as Kesler lifted his team to a 3-2 win and 2-1 series lead against the Predators. On a night when Vancouver's top two lines elevated, nobody was as good as Kesler, the 41-goal scorer from the regular season who had only five playoff assists before Tuesday's swing game. "I didn't lack in confidence," Kesler said after deflecting in Mikael Samuelsson's point shot at 10:45 of overtime. "I never thought for once I couldn't score. It was one of those things, you do all the right things. I didn't change my game at all tonight; I put the same game on the ice but I finally got the results." Kesler's chief accomplishment in the Canucks' first-round win against the Blackhawks was shutting down Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. That was a tradeoff, given the Canucks' strength in other areas, that favoured Vancouver. But against the low-scoring Predators, whose best offensive players had only 50 points this season and haven't yet been seen in this series, there is no Nashville forward for whom a goal-less tradeoff with Kesler would be a good thing for the Canucks. Kesler must score in this series. He tapped a two-foot putt into an open net after a terrific power-play setup by Christian Ehrhoff in the second period, and planted himself in front of Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne to score from four feet in overtime. And just because, he also set up Chris Higgins' third-period goal by crashing the net to collect a rebound and Rinne, who was off-balance when Kesler's linemate scored.
Canucks' Kesler outstanding … then he scored some goals, too
Vancouver Sun | May 4