Ducks-Canucks Preview

After his 10th season with the Vancouver Canucks ended with him asking for a trade, Ryan Kesler isn't sure how he'll be welcomed back to Rogers Arena.

He prefers to leave with two points for the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Kesler will take the ice in Vancouver for the first time as a visitor Thursday night with the Ducks trying to avoid a fourth straight loss.

Kesler was drafted 23rd overall by Vancouver in 2003, and became a mainstay as one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL, winning the Selke Trophy in 2011. He also collected 182 goals and 393 points, ranking third on the team over his tenure with the Canucks. His time in Vancouver ended with 25 goals, 43 points and a minus-15 rating last season as the team missed the playoffs.

He then asked for a trade, waived his no-trade clause and was dealt to Anaheim (11-4-5) for center Nick Bonino, defenseman Luca Sbisa and two draft picks over the summer.

"Hopefully they appreciated the 11 years that I played here, and remember the good times," Kesler said. "I'm hoping for a warm reception, but if not, it's part of the game.

"It's going to be an emotional night for me, but if they boo me, it'll probably jack me up even more. It's going to be fun. It's going to be an intense night, and I'm looking forward to it."

Kesler, third on the Ducks with 15 points, has already faced the Canucks (13-6-0), getting an assist before missing the final shootout attempt in a 2-1 home loss on Nov. 9.

"I think it's still going to be weird," Kesler said. "When you play with guys for 10 or 11 years, and are roommates with Kevin Bieksa for eight years, you grow a bond and a friendship that's never broken.

"The biggest thing is putting on a different uniform and being the visiting team in this building. That's going to be different."

Winning would also be a change since the Ducks are 1-1-5 after starting the season 10-3-0. They squandered a 2-0 third-period lead in Tuesday's 4-3 shootout loss at Calgary.

Anaheim, though, is 6-0-1 in its last seven games at Vancouver, winning four in a row with an 18-5 scoring edge.

Ryan Getzlaf has 15 points in his last 15 road meetings with the Canucks, collecting five in the past four. However, the center has no points and is a minus-5 while mustering one shot in the past two games overall.

The Canucks won for the third time in four games with Wednesday's 5-4 victory at Edmonton. Vancouver blew a two-goal lead in the second period and won on defenseman Yannick Weber's first goal of the season at 11:32 of the third.

"I think for us, after the second, we just knew we had to stick to our plan, we knew we could outplay them and at the end, I think we deserved the win," Weber said.

Radim Vrbata leads Vancouver with eight goals after netting two Wednesday. The right wing has 11 points in his last eight meetings with the Ducks, collecting three assists for Arizona in a 5-3 loss on Jan. 11.

It's unclear if Ryan Miller will start after making 28 saves against the Oilers, tying Nashville's Pekka Rinne for the league lead with 12 wins. He has a 2.56 goals-against average while splitting six games against the Ducks.

Backup Eddie Lack, however, had 28 saves and turned aside three shootout attempts in last week's matchup, which is also his latest start. He had lost his five previous meetings with a 3.81 GAA.

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