It's a good thing the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators didn't wind up in the same conference after the NHL's recent realignment.
Ryan Kesler scored twice and Henrik Sedin had two assists in Vancouver's 4-1 win on Saturday that was dominated by physical play that made the rare game between the two far-flung teams seem like a divisional matchup.
“We played real physical,” said Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who made 24 saves. “We were taking the body and making good body checks and we were playing the game we wanted to play.
“We just didn't get the result we wanted on the scoreboard.”
The win was the fourth in a row for the Canucks (18-10-1) and their ninth in 10 games. The Senators (13-13-4), on the other hand, have now lost three straight and have just one win in their past six games.
Rough play led to both teams having five power plays. The Canucks scored twice with the man advantage while the Senators went 0-for-5 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,171.
Dale Weise, who scored late in the third period to secure the win for the Canucks, challenged Nick Foligno to a fight late in the first period in response to an earlier hit Foligno delivered along the boards that left Cody Hodgson a little wobbly.
“It was a clean hit and I don't expect any repercussions from that. I fought Weise and that was over with,” said Foligno, who then felled Kesler with a hit in the second period that earned him a boarding minor along with a misconduct.
“They were going to come after me all night, so (Weise) asked me to go so we went. I don't mind that part of the game but I was more disappointed that we didn't get the win.”
Hodgson didn't return to the game following the hit but Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said he was fine and wanted to return but was kept out as a precautionary measure.
Vigneault added that the Foligno hit was clean, but one by Chris Neil later in the game wasn't.
“I'm more concerned about the hit where Neil tried to take Alex Burrows' head off,” said Vigneault. “Those are the types of hits we're trying to get rid of.”
NHL senior vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan will no doubt be reviewing the game tape.
Alexander Edler had the other goal for the Canucks who will now move on to Columbus for the third stop in a five-game road trip. Roberto Luongo made 24 saves for the win.
Colin Greening buried a rebound from the slot late in the second period for the Senators only goal. It came after the Canucks had built a 3-0 lead.
“We'll take some positives out of this game and move forward,” Anderson said. “There are going to be nights where you're not going to be at you best, so we just have look at this game and build on it and build off some of the good stuff we were doing.”
Goals from Edler and Kesler in the first period gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes. Edler scored on a point shot through traffic just 1:10 into the games and just four seconds after the Canucks went on the power play.
“You always want to get off to an early lead so it was nice to work with that the rest of the way,” Luongo said. “As a team we've really stepped up our game and even if we're off we're finding ways to win.”
Kesler then gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead at 8:23 as he redirected a Jannik pass past Anderson for his first of two goals in the game.
Kesler's second of the night gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead with their second power-play goal of the game. Kesler was in the right place at the right time and slipped the puck into a wide-open net from the top of the crease after the Sedin twins did some solid work to knock the puck loose from the side of the net.
Notes: Senators forward Nick Foligno had a six-game point streak snapped Saturday. ... With Matt Carkner and Peter Regin getting back into the lineup, Filip Kuba is the only remaining injured Senators' player. He missed his sixth game Saturday with an upper-body injury. ... Nikita Filatov, Zenon Kenopka and Sergei Gonchar were healthy scratches Saturday for the Senators... Andrew Ebbett with (foot), Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) and David Booth (knee) missed their 13th, fourth and second games respectively Saturday for the Canucks...Andrew Alberts and Alexander Sulzer were the two healthy scratches for the Canucks Saturday.