Kuzmenko nets hat trick as Vancouver Canucks down Anaheim Ducks 8-5

VANCOUVER — Luke Schenn has dubbed his Vancouver Canucks teammate Andrei Kuzmenko "the celebration king."

The Russian winger earned the title Thursday, sliding along the ice on one knee, then popping up for a high kick and an enthusiastic fist pump after scoring his first-ever NHL hat trick.

He also contributed an assist, helping the Canucks (3-6-2) to an 8-5 victory over the visiting Anaheim Ducks.

"It means that (I'm) beginning to feel really good here," Kuzmenko said through his translator and teammate Vasily Podkolzin. "(I'm) beginning to get this game, the NHL rules, and just keep going.”

The 26-year-old winger now has 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 11 games for the Canucks.

After starting his career in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, Kuzmenko signed with Vancouver as a free agent this summer.

"He's adjusted, learned quick on the fly and he puts in a lot of work, he shoots a lot of pucks," Schenn said. "So he's done a great job for us. He's getting better as we go here.”

All three of Kuzmenko's goals came in a furious third period that saw the offence erupt for both sides.

"I was super happy," said his linemate Elias Pettersson, who had a five-point night with a goal and four assists. "I mean, 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."

Bo Horvat scored twice and had an assist for Vancouver. J.T. Miller and Dakota Joshua also found the back of the net and Quinn Hughes contributed two helpers.

Troy Terry scored and notched two assists for the Ducks (3-7-1), while Trevor Zegras and Ryan Strome posted one of each. Max Comtois and Max Jones rounded out the scoring for the visitors.

Spencer Martin stopped 26-of-31 shots for Vancouver and Anaheim's John Gibson made 39 saves.

Canucks coach Bruce Boudreau admitted the victory didn't play out the way he drew it up.

"We're never going to turn down a win. We don't have enough of them," he said. "The offence was going well but in the end it's going to take defence to win and I thought we gave up too many chances."

The two sides combined for eight goals in less than 15 minutes in the final frame, including Horvat's empty-net strike with 56 seconds to go.

Down by three, Anaheim clawed a goal back 17:38 into the third when a rebound bounced off Jones in the crease and in past Martin to make it 7-5.

Kuzmenko had a pair of goals two minutes apart, including a blast from the high hash marks 16:48 into the period.

Earlier in the third, the Ducks cut into the home side's lead with a power-play goal after Joshua was called for tripping. Zegras fired a long shot on net and the puck slid past Martin glove side.

Both the Canucks and Ducks were 2-for-3 with the man advantage Thursday.

Comtois stemmed a three-goal outburst by Vancouver 7:51 into the third, sending a backhand shot past Martin on a breakaway to make it 5-3.

The Canucks pulled ahead 6:30 into the third when Joshua poked a puck into the Ducks' net through traffic, giving the home team a 4-2 lead.

Anaheim challenged for goaltender interference arguing Vancouver's Jack Studnicka spun Gibson out of position. But after video review, officials ruled Studnicka was making a play on the loose puck and the goal was good.

The call was a costly one for the Ducks, who were handed a delay-of-game penalty.

Vancouver was quick to convert. Kuzmenko, standing below the goal line, collected a pass from Pettersson and tapped it in behind Gibson to put the home side up 5-2 just 24 seconds into the power play.

“It was a wild game," said Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins. "I think the turning point was our challenge that went against us. So difficult night on the road for sure."

The Ducks cut their deficit to 3-2 with a goal late in the middle frame.

Zegras slipped a pass to Strome and he fired a wrist shot past Martin from the faceoff circle with 46 seconds to go in the period.

The Canucks went up 3-1 after Horvat picked a puck out of a crowd in front of the crease and dished it to Miller. Stationed at the side of the net, the feisty forward tapped it in for his sixth goal of the season.

The home side took a 2-1 lead midway through the second thanks to a slick move by Pettersson.

Ilya Mikheyev sent the star centre a pass from along boards and Pettersson kicked the puck to his stick before whipping a shot past Gibson at the 9:07 mark.

Vancouver levelled the scoring seconds before the first intermission, capitalizing on the man advantage after Comtois was called for tripping.

Hughes unleashed a long bomb from inside the blue line and Horvat tipped it in from the low slot to make it 1-1 with 19.7 seconds to go in the opening frame.

The Canucks captain now has goals in three straight games.

The Ducks put away a power-play tally of their own 16:30 into the first. Terry wove around Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers and popped a shot over Martin to open the scoring.

FOREVER A CANUCK

Vancouver held a pre-game ceremony for former defenceman Kevin Bieksa, who signed a one-day contract to officially retire a Canuck on Thursday. The 41-year-old played 13 seasons in the NHL and put up 278 points (63 goals, 215 assists) over 808 games for Vancouver and Anaheim.

UP NEXT

The Canucks wrap a four-game homestand on Saturday against the Nashville Predators. The Ducks take on the Sharks in San Jose the same night.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 3, 2022.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press