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Kesler Bites Back; Preds Fume

After infamously being dubbed "the best player to not yet score in the NHL playoffs", Ryan Kesler scores twice in the Canucks 3-2 overtime win in Nashville.

ap-201105040026015863120.jpg?x=130&y=130&xc=86&yc=1&wc=269&hc=269&q=70&sig=Ts1NlK6b1vCRM58XV4edSw-- Kesler is surrounded by teammates after tipping home the overtime winner (photos courtesy of AP Photo)

One year ago, during their playoff series against the Los Angeles Kings, Roberto Luongo was asked about the play of Ryan Kesler. "He's a warrior. That's all you can call him, a warrior." Canucks fans hearts sagged after a disappointing loss in Vancouver in double overtime. Much attention has been focused on the lack of offensive contributions from key Canuck sources, including (but not limited to) Henrik and Daniel Sedin, and Ryan Kesler. In Kesler's defence, though, many point to his shutdown performance on Jonathan Toews.

Just prior to the playoffs, The Canuck Way examined Ryan's importance to the team, in several aspects of the game. Though he's had some very exciting performances throughout the regular season, lending over to the playoffs, Game 3 in Nashville might have been his most important in a Canucks sweater. He paid the price all night, scoring an important first powerplay goal, and set up Chris Higgins for another. With the Canucks on the power play for a hooking call that he drew against Shea Weber, he deftly tipped a Mikael Samuelsson point wrister for the win. "It feels good to get this one and good to go up 2-1 in this series," Kesler told reporters post-game.

ap-201105032354860723015.jpg Former Canuck Shane O'Brien watches helplessly after he failed to block a Mikael Samuelsson wrist shot that Kesler deflects 5-hole on Pekka Rinne

Fan reaction in Nashville closely emulated (Predator winger) Jerred Smithson's, who smashed his stick over the crossbar after Kesler's goal. Following suit, a fan threw their beverage onto the ice in the Nashville zone, while others rained their orange towels onto the playing surface as the Canucks celebrated. Predators coach Barry Trotz took a dim view of the penalty call that led to the overtime opportunity. "He chicken-winged the stick and kept moving, and really if you look at it, Webs is trying to pull his stick out of there. I've seen it before. One of the earlier games, he drew a couple of penalties by chicken-winging the stick and just holding it there, and keep moving and see if he can sell it."

Predator center David Legwand, who opened the scoring shorthanded, echoed his coach's thoughts. "It's a horrible call. Obviously they're going to think it's a good call, but Kesler's obviously holding his stick. I don't know if (referee) Timmy Peel had a date or something, but he wanted to get out of here pretty quick, it looked like. It's a tough way to lose a game."

In typical fashion, Kesler was unapologetic. "He was hooking me. I thought it was a good call. We were the harder working team tonight, and we deserved that one." Leading 2-1, the Canucks now have a chance to take a strangle-hold on the series. Game Four resumes at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville at 5:30 PST.

With The Canuck Way playoff action, I'm Larenzo Jensen

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Dear Canucks: I am writing to you and to my dear Canadiansand fellow Vancouverites from Spain, my new home. I seldom write and I writeonly when my heart calls for it. On this occasion the motivation is my sonCarlos. He was born in Vancouver on a very beautiful October 27th 1991.Itsnowed on that great day and it has never snowed again on October since then.He was born with a congenital heart defect and it was miraculously healed bywhat the doctors at Vancouver's Children Hospital called an unexplainablescientific miracle.

My son Carlos has been a Canuck fan since birth. My wifeNatalia and I stood hours in line when he was 3 months old to get him theRussian Rocket's autograph and a picture with Russell Courtnall. His firstpyjamas were those of the Canucks. He has always been a loyal fan, in the goodtimes and in the not so good times, unlike me, older and more cynical gettingoff the bandwagon when things looked as in previous years, close but no cigar.I remember when he was 10 we use to argue about the Sedin brothers. I wanted totrade them and he defended them then and for years to come saying they wouldevolve into great players. I stand corrected.

We moved to Spain to start up our Kermode Canadian Center inMálaga. Our son Carlos and our daughter were not so happy with the move. Carloscouldn't speak the language as his sister, but he was more saddened about thefact that he had to leave his hockey and his Canucks behind. He and his sisterhave picked up the language and have integrated themselves very well into ournew home, but Carlos has never allowed his love for the Canucks to die. He haspicked up the love for soccer and for Barcelona Football Club, as it isexpected from a normal integrated Canadian in Spain. It now makes my admiration for him evengreater because he has not allowed that integration to lessen his passion forhis Vancouver Canucks. He has risen at all times in the early morning sometimes 3, 4, 5 am, to catch the game via internet. Every morning he gives me anupdate on trades, injuries, record breakings etc. This has been the routine forthe past five years. We all know their record for the past years and I mustadmit again that I have given up hope here and there. I don't think I need tomention the fact that my son Carlos has continuously stood behind his Canucksand kept arguing with me that they were on a journey, a process if you willthat they would evolve as the Sedin brothers into greatness.

Five years later we can watch the game on our Spanish TV,even if its one day later, as a matter of fact the game is on right now as I amwriting this letter. Technology now allows us to even record the games. My sonCarlos, now 19 years old patiently watches the game here in Spain missing thevoice of ¨Shorty, ¨ John Shorthouse, as the Spanish commentators try veryhard but cannot give us back our traditional way to watch the sport.

I wanted to share this story, the story of my son Carlos ashe is, in my proud opinion, the spiritof the Canucks, the perfect example of what we all should be: loyal, faithful,consistent positive, optimist and never ever lose hope. I love you Carlos as Ilove your sister and your mother, but my heart was telling me to write one moretime and share with Canada and the millions of Canucks fans, the certainty Ihave because of you and your example that the Canucks will be winners of theStanley Cup.

Your loving dad,

Carlos R Reygadas

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