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Ronalds Kenins making solid early impression with Vancouver Canucks

02/04/2015 03:16 EST | Updated 04/06/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - Ronalds Kenins knew he had to make amends — fast.

The Vancouver Canucks' rookie forward had just taken a holding penalty 200 feet from his own net with the score tied 1-1 early in the third period of Tuesday's game against Winnipeg.

And with the 23-year-old Latvian cooling his heels, the Jets scored just 20 seconds later to grab the lead.

"We were just talking in the locker-room that in the third period we had to try and not take a penalty," Kenins said after the game. "I went out my first shift and got a penalty.

"I was kind of nervous (after) I took that penalty and they scored."

Kenins — who recorded his first NHL goal in just his second career game during Sunday's 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild — atoned for his earlier gaffe against the Jets, burying a quick shot past Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec with under eight minutes to go in the third before Vancouver defenceman Luca Sbisa won it in overtime.

"I felt really bad (about the penalty)," said Kenins. "Lucky I got back their goal and we turned around and we won the game."

Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins said it was nice to see the energetic fourth liner cancel out his earlier mistake while engaging hulking Winnipeg defenceman Zach Bogosian on the forecheck.

"That would have hurt him. That penalty was a tough one for him," said Desjardins. "He was just trying to get in there. ... such a big body that he just kind of grabbed him a bit, but it was good to see him respond that way."

Signed as a free agent in summer of 2013, Kenins is a gritty straight-line player who enjoys the physical side of the game, and his strong showing has pushed the struggling Zack Kassian to the press box as a healthy scratch the last two outings.

"Since he's been up with us he's been bringing a lot of energy," said Vancouver forward Alexandre Burrows. "He's doing everything he's asked."

The Jets tried to intimidate the Canucks with their physicality on Thursday, but Vancouver responded well thanks in part to Kenins' pushback.

"It makes me go harder when (opponents) are hitting our guys," he said. "It makes me kind of mad and it's good for me."

Kenins spent the last six seasons playing in Switzerland and had five goals, seven assists and 23 penalty minutes in 36 games with the AHL's Utica Comets before getting called up last week.

"I know I have to work hard every shift," Kenins said bluntly. "I got two goals, but it doesn't mean anything."

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