They maintained it for much of the final 40 minutes and skated off with a 3-2 road victory on Sunday.
Kesler capped a frenetic 37-second stretch early in the second period by scoring his second goal of the game that turned out to be the winner.
The Hurricanes scored a pair of goals 10 seconds apart in the first 49 seconds of the second to tie the game. Kesler put the Canucks in front for good at 1:16.
"We wanted to gain the momentum back, and there's no better way than scoring a goal," Kesler said. "I'm happy that we got one there."
Tom Sestito also scored for the Canucks, and Jason Garrison had two assists. Backup goalie Eddie Lack made 29 saves in place of Roberto Luongo to help Vancouver earn only its third victory in 11 games.
Kesler's goal, scored 27 seconds after Carolina tied it, was set up after the Canucks won a number of scrums behind the net.
It was only the third time in 11 games that Vancouver scored at least three goals.
The Hurricanes, who failed to score on six power plays against the NHL's best penalty-killing unit, have lost six of eight.
"When you get a chance, the guys who are out there have to execute," Carolina coach Kirk Muller said. "If they can't execute, I guess we've got to start looking for other guys in our lineup and give them the opportunity.
"Everyone runs the same plays. It's a matter of getting the job done, and do it at a higher tempo.. I don't know -- maybe some of our guys can't make the plays."
One day after giving up two power-play goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rangers in New York, Vancouver was pleased with its penalty killers.
During one stretch Sunday, Carolina had 5:33 of consecutive time on the power play, including 27 seconds of a two-man advantage.
"It was God awful yesterday afternoon, and really one of the few times it has been this year," Vancouver coach John Tortorella said. "But tonight it was outstanding."
Vancouver rebounded and controlled much of the early play against the Hurricanes. The Canucks scored twice in the first period to build a 2-0 lead.
Only 11 seconds after Vancouver went on a two-man advantage, Kesler converted on a rebound to Ward's right at 3:24.
With 4:12 left in the first, Garrison took a shot that Sestito deflected in off the post.
Staal started the Hurricanes' second-period comeback when he skated into the Vancouver zone and sent a wrist shot that hit Lack in the mask.
Several Vancouver and Carolina players converged on the crease, and Staal followed up his rebound and poked the puck into the net at 39 seconds.
After the Hurricanes won the ensuing faceoff, Justin Faulk connected with Eric Staal with a nice stretch pass. Lack stopped Staal's one-handed backhand attempt, but Gerbe gathered the rebound and slapped the puck under Lack as the goalie fell into the net.
It was the first time the Carolina franchise scored two goals in the first minute of a period since Nov. 1, 1987 when they were the Hartford Whalers.
Lack relieved Luongo 17 seconds into the second period on Saturday, after Luongo allowed three Rangers goals on only 10 shots, and stopped 12 of 14 New York attempts.
Hansen left the game in the first period with an apparent right shoulder injury, but he returned in the second period. ... It was the first time Vancouver's Alex Edler and Carolina's Eric Staal played against each other since Edler hurt Staal in the world championships last summer with a knee-on-knee hit. ... Carolina defenseman Andrej Sekera missed the game because of an upper body injury.