Canucks score eight, hang on to defeat Ducks

VANCOUVERAndrei Kuzmenko scored his first NHL hat trick and also had an assist in the Vancouver Canucks’ 8-5 win against the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on Thursday.

Kuzmenko put the Canucks ahead 6-4 with a deflection at 14:48 of the third period before completing the hat trick with a wrist shot off the rush that beat John Gibson five-hole to extend it to 7-4 at 16:48. The 26-year-old forward has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in his first 11 NHL games after playing the previous eight seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.

“It means that I began to feel really good here,” Kuzmenko said with translation help from Russian teammate Vasily Podkolzin. “I begin to get this game, the NHL rules, and just keep going.”

Elias Pettersson had a goal and four assists, Bo Horvat had two goals and an assist, and Spencer Martin made 26 saves for the Canucks (3-6-2), who have won three of their past four games.

“We’re never going to turn down a win; we don’t have enough of them,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The offense was going well, but in the end, it’s going to take defense to win, and I thought we gave up too many chances.”

Video: ANA@VAN: Kuzmenko nets 3 in the 3rd for hat trick

Troy Terry had a goal and two assists, and Gibson made 39 saves for the Ducks (3-7-1), who had won their previous two games.

“There’s definitely positives, but it’s tough to dwell on them in a game where you give up eight goals,” said Anaheim forward Trevor Zegras, who had a goal and an assist.

Terry put the Ducks ahead 1-0 at 16:30 of the first period with a shot between Martin’s pads after getting behind the defense off the rush on a power play.

Horvat tied it 1-1 with 20 seconds left in the period on a power-play deflection.

Pettersson put Vancouver ahead 2-1 at 9:07 of the second period. After taking a pass from Ilya Mikheyev atop the Ducks crease, Pettersson collected the puck on his backhand, spun to his forehand while holding off Ducks defenseman John Klingberg, kicked the puck up to his stick and shot past Gibson’s blocker.

“Great hands because there wasn’t much room to make that play and there wasn’t much room to put the puck in the net,” Boudreau said. “But he seems to have that innate ability to find those small areas and sees the ice so well.”

Video: ANA@VAN: Pettersson gives the Canucks the lead in 2nd

J.T. Miller converted a cross-crease pass from Horvat at 13:06 to make it 3-1, but Ryan Strome scored with 46 seconds left in the period to pull Anaheim to within 3-2.

Dakota Joshua scored on a rebound at 5:30 to put the Canucks ahead 4-2. Anaheim challenged the play for goalie interference, but the call stood after a video review.

The Ducks were then penalized for delay of game, and on the ensuing power play, Kuzmenko tapped in a backdoor pass from Pettersson at 5:54 to make it 5-2.

“The turning point was our challenge that went against us,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “We wouldn’t challenge it unless we thought it was goalie interference. … Obviously, the League saw it differently and we live with their call.”

Max Comtois scored on a breakaway at 7:51 to make it 5-3, and Zegras scored on a long power-play shot through traffic at 13:35 to pull Anaheim to within 5-4. 

However, Kuzmenko restored Vancouver to a three-goal lead with two his goals two minutes apart.

“When he scored, I didn’t think it was a hat trick, and then I saw hats flying and we just got super happy for him,” Pettersson said. “He’s been working really hard. It’s a new city and language and everything for him, so I’m just super happy for him.”

Max Jones scored on a rebound with 2:22 left to cut it to 7-5, but Horvat scored his team-leading 10th goal into an empty net with 55 seconds left for the 8-5 final. Horvat has six goals during a three-game goal streak.

“We’ve got to do a better job of limiting those grade-A chances,” Zegras said. “[Gibson] gives us a chance to win every night and I guess to have that kind of result [stinks] for us because of how big of a part of the team he is.”

NOTES: Miller has seven points (four goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak. … It was the third five-point game of Pettersson’s NHL career, tying him with Alexander Mogilny for the Canucks record. … Martin is 2-0-1 this season and 5-0-4 in his past nine games, passing Curt Ridley (1975-76) for the most consecutive games earning at least a point after joining the Canucks in their history.

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