VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Just when it looks like the injury-riddled Vancouver Canucks might fall apart, they battle back.
It happened after a lopsided loss in Anaheim on Friday night, and again after the New York Rangers tied the game Tuesday night on a controversial power play 6:24 into the third period.
Rick Rypien put the Canucks back ahead 2:30 later, the first of three late goals that lifted the Canucks to a 4-1 victory against New York.
Mikael Samuelsson scored his second of the game on a power play with 5:57 left and Henrik Sedin added an empty-netter with 1:24 to go as the Canucks won for the sixth time in eight games despite missing seven injured players.
"This team has a lot of character, a lot of grit, a lot of hard work," said Kesler, who was in the penalty box when the Rangers' Christopher Higgins tied it early in the third period, but finished with three assists for Vancouver.
"We got beat pretty good in Anaheim but came right back and put our work boots on and didn't get discouraged and came out with two pretty good victories."
The first was a 3-0 victory against Colorado on Sunday, which was the first shutout for Andrew Raycroft in almost two years. He followed that up with another good game against New York, making 22 saves for his third victory in four starts since Roberto Luongo suffered a hairline rib fracture.
"It's good to do a good job filling in," said Raycroft, who leads the NHL with a 1.53 goals-against average and is second with a .937 save percentage. "Tonight was definitely my best game this year I think."
Henrik Lundqvist, playing his first game in the city where he is expected to backstop Sweden at the 2010 Olympics in February, matched Raycroft most of the way. He finished with 26 saves, but didn't get much help in the third period as New York lost for the sixth time in seven games after opening the season 7-1-0.
"We tie the game up and then just don't do the job defensively," coach John Tortorella said. "We gave up nine scoring chances tonight so I'm happy with the way we defended but we made a couple major mistakes at the key times."
Kesler, who is also expected to be a big part of the Olympics for Team USA, was in the center of the action all night, including a wild scrum that turned up the heat on an otherwise tedious, tight-checking game early in the third period.
Rangers star Marian Gaborik, who had his four-game goal streak snapped, shoved the agitating Kesler with his stick during a line change, touching off a melee in front of the New York bench that featured 10 Rangers against seven Canucks and resulted in five 10-minute misconducts, including one to Shane O'Brien for poking New York agitator Sean Avery with his stick from the benches.
Kesler ended up with the only minor penalty, though, and Higgins parked in front of the net to fire in his first goal of the season and tie the game.
"It gave us a power play and we scored a power-play goal to tie the game up but we just couldn't keep the momentum on our side," Tortorella said.
Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault was less willing to discuss the melee that left his team shorthanded, and allowed the Rangers back into the game.
"I could comment in a multitude of ways but I've already talked to [GM Mike Gillis] about it and he told me he was going to deal with it," he said.
- Luongo skated with goaltending consultant Ian Clark the past two days and is expected to join the team on a five-game, 11-day road trip that will start Thursday in Minnesota.
- The Rangers haven't won in Vancouver in almost 12 years, but this was only their fifth visit since Wayne Gretzky scored a hat trick in a 6-3 victory on Oct. 11, 1997.
- Rangers RW Enver Lisin missed the game with a bruised foot and was replaced on the top line with Gaborik and Vinny Prospal by Higgins.
- New York enforcer Donald Brashear, who played five seasons in Vancouver, missed a second successive game with a lingering arm injury, and remains one game shy of his 1,000th in the NHL.