Instant Reaction: Kuzmenko pots two, Hughes hits another record as Canucks move atop NHL standings

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
5 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! Wyatt Arndt will have The Stanchies out later tonight and Mike Liu’s Statsies — CA’s analytics-based post game report — will be up early tomorrow morning!
For a bit, it really looked like this game was going to end by a final score of 11-10. Either that, or that was going to be the shot total in a 6-5 Canucks win.
It was a funny game, really. Heading into tonight, I decided I’d do a bit more of a traditional instant reaction, where I give a true instant reaction to the game instead of a play by play of the events that transpired.
So my most immediate reaction tonight? The Canucks basically took a night off from playing defence, and I truly can’t tell if the Sharks, who defended in a similar way to the Canucks tonight, were trying their absolute hardest to defend.
These are two teams at opposite ends of the NHL standings, and for good reason. The Canucks have a ridiculous amount of high-end talent, and with the way their third line has been playing as of late, it would have been truly shocking if the Sharks managed to win this game. This also has to do with the fact that the Canucks just have not lost much on home ice this season.
The game started with two goals from Andrei Kuzmenko, who was back in the Canucks’ top six playing on Elias Pettersson’s wing. Kuzmenko’s first goal came within the first two minutes of the game at five on five, as he cleanly beat Sharks goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood to give the Canucks the early 1-0 lead.
Kuzmenko’s second goal was a deft deflection off of a hard JT Miller pass that came with the Canucks on the power play.
At this point in the game, I thought my instant reaction was just going to be me ranking my favourite Christmas movies just to get the word count up. But no, this game was actually kind of close! Kind of.
Also, Elf is the best Christmas comedy movie of all time, and It’s A Wonderful Life is the greatest Christmas movie ever. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. (Please let me know your favourite Christmas movies in the comments section).
Goals from Markus Granlund and Tomas Hertl where the Canucks just stopped defending (and changed lines very poorly on the second goal), allowed the Sharks to tie things up before the end of the first period.
The Stanchies will feature seven different angles of the Canucks’ missed D-Zone coverage, I’m sure.
Arguably the funniest thing about the Canucks refusing to defend was that Thatcher Demko ended the period with a .600 save percentage after allowing two goals on five shots. Thankfully, the “Casey DeSmith should start games over Demko” takes appear as though they’ll stay away until at least the new year.
We’re also not going to go through each goal the Canucks scored tonight in video form, but with contributions from Nils Aman, Sam Lafferty, and Pius Suter, the scoring continues to be spread out for this team. One goal we are going to highlight is this one from Dakota Joshua, his eighth of the year, with the assists going to Conor Garland and Teddy Blueger.
And we also need to highlight the Aman goal, because this set up by Teddy Blueger was so damn pretty.
With two points tonight including an empty-netter that marked his 10th goal of the season, Quinn Hughes tied Alex Edler for the franchise record for multi-point games by a defenceman with 68 multi-point games already in his young career.
So, yeah, it wasn’t the Canucks’ best game from a defensive standpoint, but they did what they were supposed to do: beat the lowly San Jose Sharks as they head into the Christmas break. It was a fun night, and that’s all that really matters right now.
And of course, that makes them the only team in the NHL with 49 points on the season, as your Vancouver Canucks now sit alone for first place in the NHL’s overall standings.
UPDATE: Andrei Kuzmenko was named tonight’s first star tonight. What a great confidence boost that must be for him. Hopefully this can be a game he can build off of.
This is our last instant reaction before Christmas so I just wanted to say thank you to our readers and wish you a Merry Christmas before I ask you to tell me your instant reaction (and favourite Christmas movie!) in the comments section below!

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