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Rangers pay a visit to Canucks

It has literally been a long start to the season for the New York Rangers, who have so far played just one game in their own country.

Things don't get any easier for the Blueshirts tonight as they kick off a four-game swing through Canada against the Canucks hoping to win in Vancouver for the first time in 14 years.

Another sign that things just aren't going in the Rangers' favor right now; the Canucks will also have forward and reigning Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler in the lineup for the first time this season.

The Rangers were one of four teams that opened the season in Europe, with New York dropping a pair of shootout games to the Kings and Ducks, respectively, in Sweden. The club did return to New York on Saturday and visited the Islanders, coming away with a 4-2 setback.

Brandon Prust and Marian Gaborik scored goals and Henrik Lundqvist made 30 saves, but Dan Girardi took an interference penalty early in the third period that led to the Islanders' game-winning goal. It was one of eight penalties on the night for the Rangers.

"We have to be more disciplined out there," Gaborik said.

New York is also set to visit Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg to wrap its season-opening seven-game road trip, but head coach John Tortorella wasn't blaming the long trek on his club's Saturday performance.

"Don't go there. There's no excuses here. We lost a hockey game. That team played better than us," Tortorella said. "They were more disciplined than us. I don't want to hear about Europe. I don't want to hear is it a penalty or not a penalty. We're not disciplined enough and Europe has nothing to do with tonight's game."

New York did add a pair of fresh bodies since Saturday's loss, recalling both forward Kris Newbury and defenseman Brendan Bell from the American Hockey League. Newbury had four goals and eight points in four games with Connecticut of the AHL.

Bell, meanwhile, will bolster a blue line that is without both Marc Staal (concussion) and Michael Sauer (sprained right shoulder), while forward Wojtek Wolski has missed the past two games with a groin injury and is day-to-day.

Perhaps the new faces will help the Rangers pick up their first victory at Vancouver since Oct. 11, 1997. They have lost their last five trips to the city and nine of the last 11 against the Canucks overall.

Of course, going up against Kesler won't make things any easier. The 27-year- old netted a career-high 41 goals last season and added another 19 points during Vancouver's run to the Stanley Cup Finals. He missed the first five games of this season while recovering from offseason hip surgery.

"My hip's 100 percent," Kesler said. "I'm definitely not going out there to limp into the lineup."

Kesler is expected to center a line between Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson, with the young Hodgson sliding over from center to the wing.

Vancouver returns home after wrapping up a four-game road trip on Saturday with a 4-3 triumph at Edmonton. The Canucks will play at home for the first time since their season-opening shootout loss to the Penguins on Oct. 6, going 2-2 on the swing.

Defenseman Sami Salo scored the first and last goals for the Canucks over the weekend as the club rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits. Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows also scored, with Sedin adding an assist.

"The first period didn't go the way we wanted," Salo said. "We took some bad penalties and kind of gave them a little bit of momentum, but overall I think it was a pretty even game and it was probably our best game of the road trip. It was a big win."

Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots in the win, his first of the season, and has won both his previous starts versus the Rangers while with the Canucks.