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Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler celebrates his hat-trick goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia April 7, 2011. (BEN NELMS/REUTERS)
Vancouver Canucks' Ryan Kesler celebrates his hat-trick goal against the Minnesota Wild during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia April 7, 2011. (BEN NELMS/REUTERS)

Canucks get back on track Add to ...

The Vancouver Canucks still had unfinished celebrating, and unfinished business before the NHL playoffs start next week.

Put checkmarks beside both boxes.

The Canucks snapped a mini two-game losing streak with a 5-0 blowout victory over the Minnesota Wild in the final regular-season home game of 2010-11. Ryan Kesler had a hat trick, and is now up to a career-best 40 goals, while Mason Raymond broke out of a slump with two tallies and Roberto Luongo turned away 29 shots for his fourth shutout of the season.

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"We definitely didn't play the best hockey the last couple of games, and it was good to get back," Kesler said.

Kesler had gone nearly two months without a five-on-five goal, while Raymond had just one goal in his last eight games, and had been re-assigned to the third line because of his struggles.

Luongo's performance, meanwhile, will likely earn the Canucks the Jennings Trophy for best team goals-against average. He is finished for the regular season barring the unforeseen.

Backup Cory Schneider is scheduled to start Saturday's season finale at Calgary. It will be his 25th appearance of the season, which means his name will get on the trophy alongside Luongo's. Vancouver's starter will now have about one week off before the postseason commences.

"One week or five days, I don't think it's going to make a difference," Luongo said.

The league's best team celebrated its Presidents' Trophy victory with a pre-game ceremony that featured an emotional appearance from injured centre Manny Malhotra. He has been sidelined with a serious eye injury since March 16, but has had two surgeries to restore his vision and appeared at ice level, in sunglasses, with captain Henrik Sedin to accept the trophy from an NHL official.

The Rogers Arena faithful gave him a standing ovation.

Missing Malhotra, and winger Raffi Torres, who is serving a suspension, the Canucks dressed just 11 forwards and head coach Alain Vigneault was mixing and matching his line combinations. Daniel Sedin, who is trying to follow in brother Henrik's footsteps by winning the Art Ross Trophy, had two assists and extended his lead to five points over Anaheim winger Corey Perry. Sedin logged more than 22 minutes of ice time, and the Canucks have made it clear that they will give him every opportunity to win the scoring title.

Vigneault said the team will play with seven defencemen, and 11 forwards Saturday against the Flames, because a lack of salary-cap space prevents them from calling up a replacement for Torres. That game could also be the first time this season that Vancouver has its top-six defencemen together for the same game.

Alexander Edler (back surgery) returned from a 31-game layoff Thursday, while Dan Hamhuis (concussion) is hoping to play Saturday.

"You can say whatever you want about these games not meaning much, but if we would've kept losing, not for us in the room, but outside -- the media and fans -- the questions and the doubt creep in," captain Henrik Sedin said.

The Canucks also announced their team awards before the game. The fans vote for every category except the Molson Cup Award, which is accumulation of three-star selections made by the media.

The winners:

  • Cyclone Taylor Trophy (team MVP): Daniel Sedin
  • Cyrus H. McLean Trophy (leading scorer): Daniel Sedin
  • Walter (Babe) Pratt Trophy (best defenceman): Christian Ehrhoff
  • Molson Cup Award (most three-star selections): Roberto Luongo
  • Fred J. Hume Award (unsung hero): Jannik Hansen
  • Most Exciting Player Award: Ryan Kesler

* all trophies voted on by fans except Molson Cup Award

Follow on Twitter: @mattsekeres

 

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