Quinn Hughes goes supernova as the Canucks beat Oilers 5-2 in first preseason win
1 month ago
Let the parade planning begin, the Vancouver Canucks have finally won a preseason game!
In front of a decently sized Rogers Arena crowd, a massive new scoreboard and the small but incredibly noticeable blue dasher boards, the Canucks put together a convincing 5-2 win over an undermanned Edmonton Oilers squad.
As with all the preseason losses preceding this game, the final results should likely be taken with a grain of salt. But as far as the way they got there was concerned, the Canucks wobbled in the first period before finding their land legs and rolling in the final two periods. Once Quinn Hughes decided it was his night to take over, Edmonton was cooked.
Let’s get to the highlights.
The slightly earlier than usual 6 p.m. puck drop seemed to throw the home team off, because the Oilers ‘B’ team ran the pace of play against the Canucks in the first 20 minutes. Even without the services of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton outshot Vancouver 14-5 and earned a couple of power plays, but were unable to convert.
The first period wasn’t entirely bad news. Quinn Hughes provided a little bit of foreshadowing for the final 40 minutes when he called his own number and ripped a shot at the Oilers net that sailed just a bit too high.
But just when it looked like the Canucks might escape with a scoreless tie, the Oilers broke through.
In the last minute of play, Mattias Janmark dragged the puck to the net and forced Thatcher Demko to make a save in close. The rebound popped out, and approximately four players overskated it before Adam Erne spun around and whipped the puck past a sprawling Demko.
In the ultimate betrayal, the secondary assist went to legendary former Canuck Brandon Sutter. But he’d make up for it later in the evening.
GOAL – 1-0 Oilers – Adam Erne (1) from Brandon Sutter (1) and Mattias Janmark (1)
Surely, this was just going to end up like the three preseason games right? WRONG!
After the underwhelming start the Canucks completely woke up in the second, thanks in large part to the work of their new captain.
Midway through the period Phil Di Giuseppe and Hughes found themselves on the unlikeliest of odd man rushes. The Oilers defender, knowing full well that Hughes presented a higher threat, slid between to cut off the pass option.
That’s when Di Giuseppe showed off his ultimate playmaking skills by flipping a pass over the fallen Oiler. Hughes then batted the puck in midair with all the hand-eye coordination of Bo Bichette or Julio Rodriguez (this is Vancouver, we’ve gotta cover all our bases).
Canucks Army could not confirm if Hughes had been working with Roger Federer to improve his swing while the Laver Cup was in town.
GOAL – 1-1 tie – Quinn Hughes (1) from Phil Di Giuseppe (1) and Brock Boeser (1)
But Hughes wasn’t satisfied with just one goal. He wanted more. Nay, he needed more.
That’s why two minutes later, Hughes worked the puck around Edmonton’s defensive perimeter before throwing a seeing eye backhander at the net that caught Skinner completely off guard.
It wasn’t the sexiest goal Hughes has ever scored (that honour goes to the first one tonight), but Hughes knows they all count the same.
“I think this is probably the most confident I feel in my abilities on the blue line for sure,” the new captain said after.
“For me it’s always just defending hard and doing what I need to do for the team, then I think I’m gonna get my looks this year for sure.”
GOAL – 2-1 Canucks – Quinn Hughes (1) from Brock Boeser (2) and Phil Di Giuseppe (2)
Hughes big effort came despite the struggles of Cole McWard, who was auditioning for the spot on his right side. McWard looked overwhelmed with the first pairing assignment, struggling to keep up with the NHL level pace and taking three penalties in the process. It seems pretty likely that McWard will start the year in Abbotsford while one of the veterans slide up next to Hughes. May I suggest Filip Hronek?
After Brandon Sutter tripped his former teammate Hughes less than 20 seconds into the third and thanks to a later second period penalty, the power play unit got an extended 5-on-3 to work with and Andrei Kuzmenko immediately made the Oilers pay.
After Pettersson and Hughes worked the puck to him, Kuzmenko was able to slide right into the middle of the ice near the hashmarks with absolutely no pressure by the Oilers penalty killers. There wasn’t much Skinner could do once he let he rip.
GOAL – 3-1 Canucks- Andrei Kuzmenko (1) from Quinn Hughes (1) and Elias Pettersson (1)
If Kuzmenko’s open shot wasn’t a bad enough move, the Oilers made an even more fatal mistake five minutes later: letting Elias Pettersson get the puck with plenty of time and space.
Pettersson, with all the patience and precision of a surgeon, wires it past Skinner.
Pettersson’s wrist shot is so lethal, we can only hope we get to see a lot more of it this year.
GOAL – 4-1 Canucks – Elias Pettersson (1) from Brock Boeser (3) and J.T. Miller (1)
Meanwhile Phil Di Giuseppe hadn’t gotten a single point in almost 20 whole hockey minutes, and he’d had enough.
PDG potted his first goal of the preseason after with a deft deflection on an Ian Cole shot, forcing Skinner to reboot like the new Rogers Arena scoreboard. The zebras double checked to see if a high stick had gotten involved, but found no evidence.
While Hughes and Di Giuseppe garnered most of the attention, it’s worth noting that Brock Boeser assisted on four of five goals tonight. He had an exceptional night in the playmaking department.
GOAL – 5-1 Canucks – Phil Di Giuseppe (1) from Ian Cole (1) and Brock Boeser (4)
The Oilers finally broke the Canucks run of unanswered goals seconds after the Di Giuseppe tally, as Raphael Lavoie was sprung on an odd man rush. Lavoie used Tyler Myers as a screen for Demko and put a laser of a shot past the both of them.
GOAL – 5-2 Canucks – Raphael Lavoie (1) from Philip Broberg (1)
After that, the Canucks found a good balance of protecting their lead and maintaining the pace of play. The Oilers had a fair few chances in the late stages, but the Canucks made sure they never reached the verge of a comeback.
Once the game completely out of the reach, the Oilers decided to initiate cheap shot mode, starting with Darnell Nurse taking a run at Brock Boeser. He thankfully didn’t make full contact, but the intent was obvious.
Then David Desharnais decided that Nurse hadn’t gone far enough, and cross-checked Anthony Beauvillier in the face during a heated discussion.
The refs quickly defused the situation, and the Canucks let the clock run out on their first win of the preseason.
It wasn’t a flawless 60 minutes from the Canucks, but once the offence found their footing everything else more or less clicked into place. If Vancouver can find this same killer instinct against regular season NHL lineups, they’ll make their lives infinitely easier.
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