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Sharks-Canucks: Starting with a bang?

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Remember all that jostling between Joe Thornton and Ryan Kesler during the opening faceoff Sunday night?

Kesler revealed Tuesday that Thornton challenged him to a fight.

"Why not?" Thornton said, grinning Tuesday in confirming the story to reporters.

What did he tell Kesler?

"'Let's fight; let's start the series off with a bang,'" Thornton said, smiling.

"I laughed at him," Kesler said Tuesday. "I'm not intimidated by anyone. I played against [Shea] Weber and that beard last round."

Asked whether he was surprised Kesler declined, Thornton laughed and said, "No."

Kesler revealed the Thorton offer when asked by CBC reporter Tim Wharnsby in the media scrum to give a recent example of how he's curbed his antics during stoppages in play.

"Opening draw last game," Kesler said. "Thornton asked me to fight. I'm not going to engage in that. I'm not going to respond to that. He can talk all he wants and he's not going to get anything from me."

There's some history here with Jumbo Joe and this kind of thing. He target="new">dropped the gloves with Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf off the opening faceoff during a playoff game with the Ducks two years ago.

Malhotra skates

Canucks forward Manny Malhotra practiced with his Canucks teammates in full equipment Tuesday, but at this point, there's no reason to believe he'll play this postseason after suffering a career-threatening eye injury in March.

"No, not at all," teammate Alex Burrows said. "Just hearing the doctors and hearing him talk, his goal is to come back next year. Obviously with that kind of injury, you don't want to force things and come back early. Just to have him around and in practice has been a lot of fun. He's been a huge help to the players."

For now, it's just about Malhotra's presence.

"Having him around the team, he's been a very important part of our group, of our leadership group," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I want him around the team, and he's around the team. It's that simple. We're not going to discuss his physical situation, his eye. All I can tell you is I want him around the team, and that's it."

The matchup game

The Canucks seemed intent in Game 1 on having Kesler versus Thornton. And the Sharks say bring it on.

"I don't mind it at all," Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Tuesday. "Thornton just played against [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg. Ryan is up there with those two, and he's fine."

No friendship on the ice

Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo and Sharks captain Thornton have become pals over the years, but that relationship is on hold for two weeks.

"Yeah, I mean, me and Joe get along great," Luongo said. "We've played on Team Canada a whole bunch of times, All-Star Games, stuff like that. We're adversaries. I want to win more than he does or just as much as he does. That being said, doesn't mean you can't give him a wink or a smile. It's part of hockey. It's fun. It's fun to play. This is a battle between the Canucks and the Sharks. We want to take the next step and be in the finals. At the end of the day, winning is what matters most."

Quote of the day

Alex Burrows is in the second season of a four-year, $8 million deal. He was asked Tuesday about players following the Sedin twins' lead and taking a bit less money than they would get in free agency to stay in Vancouver.

"For a guy making $425 a week in the East Coast [league], signing for $2 million a year seemed like a pretty good idea at that point," Burrows said, smiling.