Kesler lifts Canucks past Blue Jackets

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Ticker) -- Ryan Kesler scored early

into the second period as the Vancouver Canucks recorded a 3-1

triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday.

Defenseman Sami Salo and Alex Burrows also scored, Mats Sundin

notched two assists and All-Star Roberto Luongo finished with 19

saves for Vancouver, which improved to 6-1-0 in its last seven

games.

"We're tight defensively and that's good to see," Kesler said.

"We were good through the neutral zone and I think it really

helps (Luongo) when we're playing like that in front of him."

"I saw a few pucks in the third, but first two periods - not

much action," Luongo admitted.

Captain Rick Nash scored and rookie Steve Mason turned aside 27

shots for Columbus, which saw its five-game winning streak

against the Canucks come to an end.

"It's been our story all year. Same old thing," Nash said.

"(Our) power play doesn't get us any goals. In the new NHL,

special teams is a huge deal.

"I keep saying it, but it's true. We've just got to keep

working on it, keep it simple. Hopefully this last stretch of

games at the end of the season, it will come through for us."

Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock was not thrilled with his team's

lack of offense.

"I really think our goaltender and our defense really played

well," Hitchcock said. "We've got to get a lot more from some

people up front. ... We're not getting a lot of production. I

think any time you score two goals on a road trip in three

games, you're not getting production.

Salo opened the scoring with five seconds remaining in the first

period.

With his team on a 5-on-3 power play, Salo wristed a shot which

beat Mason for his fifth goal of the season.

"I don't think Sami scores if Daniel (Sedin) is not in front,"

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said. "Mason didn't see

anything. As hard as a shot I think he has, part of beating

these great quality goaltenders on the first shot is you've got

to have traffic in front. Danny did a great job on that play."

Kesler doubled the advantage 1:42 into the second period after

deflecting Sundin's blast from the left faceoff circle past

Mason for his 19th tally of the campaign.

Nash cut the deficit in half 6:18 into the third period after

following up his own rebound and backhanding the puck past

Luongo. For Nash, it was his 27th goal of the season, and ninth

point - four goals, five assists - in five career games against

the Canucks.

Burrows regained the two-goal advantage 5 1/2 minutes later

after finishing off a 3-on-1 advantage by blasting a shot from

the slot past Mason.

"It's nice that's for sure," Burrows said of the goal. "Like I

said the other day, I put some pressure on myself every game,

but playing with the (Sedin) twins, I need to put up some

points. That's how they're going to be judged and that's how

they're going to be successful."

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