Instant Reaction: Thatcher Demko and Andrei Kuzmenko lead Canucks to overtime win over Stars
Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Tonight was a night full of questions. Questions such as who would be the Canucks second line centre? Aätu Raty? Jack Studnicka? Sheldon Dries?
Who would be in goal? And of course, how would this defence group fare against a Stars team that sits at the top of the Central Division?
The answer to that last question, to the surprise of many, was “pretty well!”
Well, not exactly, but with the help of Thatcher Demko, the Canucks were right in this one. If the Canucks were going to be in this game, they were going to need their top line to put in a lot of work, and that’s what happened tonight. Anthony Beauvillier opened the scoring, with Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko picking up the assists.
The power play gave up a shorthanded goal against shortly after, which certainly wasn’t ideal, but the second unit came out and scored almost immediately after the goal to give the Canucks a one-goal lead once again.
A goal from Vasily Podkolzin gave the Canucks a two-goal lead heading into second frame, with Aatu Räty, who I thought had his best game tonight, picking up his first point as a Canuck with an assist on the goal.
Tonight, Räty continued what we’ve seen in flashes so far since he’s been up with the big club: smart play at both ends of the ice. One thing you seem to notice with Räty is that he’s never out of position. Even on broken plays or in quick transition, Räty always seems to be in the right spot before plays even have the chance to develop. For the most part, he’s come as advertised, and you hope that he can continue to improve on his skating.
Anyways, back to the game itself.
Through 40 minutes, this one wasn’t just close, the Canucks had a one-goal lead thanks to the play of Thatcher Demko, who had already faced 14 high-danger chances to that point.
It took little time for the Stars to tie this one up, with Nils Lundkvist benefiting from Brock Boeser deflecting his point shot over Demko’s right shoulder.
Demko was excellent tonight, and the Canucks wasted little time in welcoming him back to the starter’s crease by reminding him exactly what it’s like to backstop this team. The final shot tally of 40-28 in favour of the Stars tells that story more than adequately.
Elias Pettersson had a key shot block off of a Wyatt Johnson shot in the third, and showed the kind of commitment to winning that we’ve come to expect from number 40 on a nightly basis this season.
The Pettersson line had a dogged effort in the final minute of the game and nearly gave the Canucks a late lead after a strong forechecking shift from Kuzmenko and Beauvillier.
Once again, the Canucks’ determined effort led them to overtime against a team many people wouldn’t have expected them to be able to compete with.
And nothing really happened before Andrei Kuzmenko ended this one in a blink of an eye. Anthony Beauvillier backed his way into the offensive zone and fed Kuzmenko to tally his 27th of the season to seal the deal for the Canucks.
Of course, there had to be a five minute review of the goal before anyone could leave the ice or before I could hit publish on this article. But it was a good goal and the Canucks won in the end by a final score of 5-4.
Our instant reaction tonight is that although this lineup looks primed to tank, Thatcher Demko does not look primed to tank. And of course, neither does Andrei Kuzmenko, the anti-tank missile himself.
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