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Instant Reaction: Quinn Hughes leads Canucks to victory in Bo Horvat’s return to Vancouver

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
3 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 is back on duty writing The Stanchies, and Mike Liu will have The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report — up tomorrow morning. 
You all knew the storyline heading into tonight’s game. The former beloved captain turned-kind-of-a-villain-but-not-quite Bo Horvat made his return to Vancouver with his New York Islanders club on a five game losing streak.
Horvat’s “better than Vancouver” comments were something parts of the fanbase certainly hadn’t forgotten, as Horvat was booed upon his first touch of the puck. Ultimately, the cheers were louder than the boos for Horvat’s in-arena tribute that played during the first TV timeout. Horvat got emotional during the tribute. We also noticed him in a similar state while he was taking warmups, as there were a group of Canucks fans in the Islanders’ end applauding him and showing their appreciation for his time in Vancouver.
Horvat’s Islanders opened the scoring after Ian Cole hooked the former Canucks captain to put New York on the man advantage early. Pierre Engvall found the back of the net, but Horvat wasn’t on the ice for that one. Horvat was on the ice for the next Islanders power play goal, however — also a result of an Ian Cole minor penalty, this time for clearing the puck over the glass.
The Canucks’ second half of the first was much better than their first, but being down by a couple after 20 minutes is certainly not what anyone had in mind.
The Canucks were efficient in cutting down the lead once the second period began, as they scored on their first power play chance of the game just minutes into the second frame.
As was expected, Horvat got one in his return to Vancouver after a failed breakout attempt from Quinn Hughes allowed Mat Barzal to play catch with Horvat, eventually setting him up for the one-timer to push the Islanders back to a two goal lead.
It didn’t take long for the Canucks to strike back, as another power play opportunity gave JT Miller to show off his skills and pick up his second point of the night, this time on a pass to Brock Boeser.
Arguably the most impressive thing about Boeser’s goal is that Miller perfectly waited out Alex Romanov to take his stick out of the passing lane. As soon as he did, Miller placed a perfect pass on Boeser’s tape. This made it 3-2 Isles heading into the third.
The third period was back and forth, but a strong shift from Elias Pettersson and his linemates presented the Canucks with a golden opportunity to turn the tide when Noah Dobson slashed Pettersson on a breakaway. During the delayed call, JG Pageau took a tripping penalty to give the Canucks a full two minute of 5-on-3 power play time.
After cycling the puck around for nearly a minute, everyone’s attention turned to Andrei Kuzmenko, as a JT Miller slap shot went wide and caught Kuzmenko in the neck and face area. He went down in a heap as Bo Horvat stood by his former teammates as the trainer attended to Kuzmenko. We’ll have an update post game on Kuzmenko’s condition.
After Kuzmenko went to the tunnel and play resumed, Quinn Hughes picked up yet another point as he set up Filip Hronek — who was on PP1 to replace Kuzmenko — for Hronek’s first goal as a Canuck.
That’s 100 MPH off the stick, the hardest shot from any Canuck this season.
With time winding down and the game tied at three apiece, the Isles poured on the pressure in this high-flying affair. The shot totals did not lie in this one. 40 shots for Vancouver and 33 for New York illustrated this game’s entertainment value quite well. This one needed overtime to solve.
Quinn Hughes to the rescue.
Fitting, really, as Hughes logged 29:24 of total ice time tonight.
Some other takeaways from tonight:
-Thatcher Demko was solid tonight, but it’s a second start in a row where he’s looked as human as we’ve s. He made a huge right pad save off of Oliver Wahlstrom early on to keep the Canucks from having to play catch-up.
-Even without Pius Suter in the lineup (we’ll find out why he was scratched in the post game with Tocchet in The Stanchies) Conor Garland had a hell of a game, driving his line to success at even-strength. As has been a trend lately, Garland was a behemoth all over the ice all night long. He was hard on the forecheck, drew penalties with his tenacity, and was noticeable every time he was on the ice.
-Dakota Joshua is playing like a man who doesn’t want to lose his spot in the lineup. Assuming Kuzmenko won’t make the trip to Calgary tomorrow, it looks like there won’t need to be any hard decisions made with the forward group. For now…
All in all, my instant reaction tonight is that the story that was Bo Horvat’s return to Vancouver did not disappoint. It was a back and forth affair that provided every bit of entertainment value hockey fans would have hoped for. The story playing out right before our eyes tonight was so good that you were almost waiting for Miller and Horvat to drop the gloves at times.

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