VANCOUVER – In the first game of his rookie season with the Vancouver Canucks, about 55 minutes before Connor McDavid burned him at the Edmonton Oilers' winning goal, Quinn Hughes turned to defense partner Chris Tanev before the opening game and asked if they would stay out against the superstar once the puck was dropped.
Tanev agreed. And then 19-year-old Hughes replied, according to Tanev: "Okay, let's go."
Less than three months later, Hughes didn't have to ask on Monday.
Hughes struck most of the game against the McDavid-Leon Draisaitl line, helping not only to keep the top two goal scorers in the National Hockey League with three shots on the net and one assistant per game (in the power game), but also with a goal in The Third Period Winner when the Canucks caught up 4-2 against the Oilers.
"It is good, but humiliating at the same time," said Hughes, who turned 20 two weeks after the defeat in Edmonton on October 2, about the closure of McDavid. "I know these guys can do three (minus) three every night. I only try to play my position when I play these guys. It feels good."
The control center Jay Beagle has spent his entire NHL career preparing for tasks such as defending against McDavid and Draisaitl. Including the five games he played for the Canucks just outside of the University of Michigan at the end of last season, Hughes played 41 NHL games before Monday.
"Sure, he surprises me," said Beagle. "I knew he was a great skater. You could tell that from day 1. Great with the puck. But there are obviously things you can learn about a guy by just playing more games with him (and not his game) ) the puck and his reads, it takes a long time for some people to get it. He has it immediately, which is good for us. "
Just a week ago, the laid-back west coast (except for the Canucks or Pipelines) was split between whether trainer Travis Green or general manager Jim Benning should be fired first after Vancouver lost four of five games four points behind the final placeholder for the placeholder playoffs.
They suddenly scored their most impressive three-way streak of the season with a win against the Vegas Golden Knights, followed by victories against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Oilers, whose Canucks lead has dropped to two points.
The binding target on Monday, however, was extremely controversial as it concerned the highly subjective and mysterious "Kicking Motion" rule, the NHL war room in Toronto, a toss and an Ouija board before Bo Horvat's right foot was allowed for the Canucks count.
This season he was goalless at home, which meant that he hadn't scored in Vancouver since he was named Canucks captain on October 9. Horvat turned his right skate clearly to direct the generous rebound from Tanner Pearson's shot into an open net behind Oilers goalkeeper Mikko Koskinen at 4:12 in the final round.
There are fewer football goals than at Horvat, which is why his party was dampened. He actually looked guilty as he put his arms in the air.
"I didn't want to raise my hopes until we went to the center of the ice and the puck was dropped," said Horvat. "I went back to the bank and thought:" You know what, with my luck at home that probably won't count now. "No step at all. I am glad that it went in. It should have cannot come at a better time. "
It was difficult to say after the game which interpretation of the rules was more disappointing for Edmonton coach Dave Tippett: Horvat's kick or the kick in the teeth of a Too-Men-Men call, the Hughes & # 39; Powerplay- Winner preceded 1:48 p.m.
"Limit at this stage of the game," said Tippett of the penalty. "You get a few breaks, but ultimately you have to take care of things like that. It's the details of winning. If you aren't ready to do enough, you will lose a few games and that happened tonight."
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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Oscar Klefbom scored a 2-1 lead for Edmonton, who led them 13-0 to 1 in the games that led them in the third period. Draisaitl and McDavid each ended a minus three, and the Oilers are only 2-6: 1 in their last nine games.
Tyler Motte and Loui Eriksson scored the other goals from Vancouver in an empty net.
A week ago nobody had thought that the Canucks would go into the Christmas break with this good mood.
"We have never lost confidence," said Hughes. "We have a good team. We know it. Our coaching staff know it and our management know it. We believe in ourselves."
Motte said: "Winning fixes a lot of things. The momentum is good."
The next Canucks game is Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings. The Oilers are playing the Calgary Flames on Friday.