If last Thursday was hyped up due to it being the first meeting between Kaapo Kakko and Jack Hughes and the reignition of the Devils-Rangers rivalry, today was just as important. It was the first meeting at the NHL level between Jack Hughes’ Devils and his brother Quinn of the Vancouver Canucks.
The Devils won the game 1-0 powered by Jack’s first NHL goal and Mackenzie Blackwood’s 25 saves.
The Devils got a big part of their defense back when Andy Greene was back in the lineup. Connor Carrick was out on the blueline as a healthy scratch, joining Jesper Boqvist up front. Nico Hischier also remains out with injury.
Vancouver seemingly got on the board first when a Jay Beagle shot beat Blackwood with 16:07 to go in the first. The goal was immediately waved off on the ice and as the whistle had blown before the puck entered the net. The score remained 0-0.
A little while later, the Devils and Jack Hughes would get exactly what they needed in this young season.
The Canucks’ Tyler Myers was called for a hold on John Hayden setting the Devils up on the power play.
At the 14:08 mark, Taylor Hall curled around the far half wall, dropped to Sami Vatanen at the point. Hall and Vatanen played catch just inside the Vancouver line and Hall took a few steps in. He skated to the far faceoff dot and found a cross-ice seam to Hughes, who was camped out at the near faceoff dot. He took the pass and wristed one by Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko to give the Devils the 1-0 lead.
It was just the second Devils power play goal of the year and Jack Hughes’ first NHL goal. And it would last.
The Devils ended the afternoon 1-for-4 on the power play with eight shots. The Devils also had a trio of shorthanded shots. The Canucks were 0-for-7 with the man advantage, firing nine shots at Blackwood. They also had a shot down a man.
Midway through the second period, Alexander Edler hit Blake Coleman up high, resulting in a penalty. This also resulted in the unlikely situation of Mirco Mueller coming to his defense and fighting Brandon Sutter. Mueller took the extra two minutes for roughing, which left us with four-on-four play for the next two minutes.
Vancouver would pull Demko late in the third but the Devils weathered the storm (and more than a few icings as they fired for the empty net at the other end).
In the end, the Devils got the two points with the 1-0 win. Demko was named the game’s third star, stopping 23 of the Devils’ 24 shots for a .958 save percentage. Blackwood was the second star with the shutout and Jack Hughes was named the game’s first star with his family and friends in attendance. He scored the game-winner and the only goal in the inaugural “Hughes Bowl.” Round one to Jack.
Statistically, the Devils got absolutely murdered in the faceoff circle, winning a paltry 34-percent of the game’s draws. They were also outhit 13 to 12, but managed more blocks at 23 to 12 and less giveaways at five to Vancouver’s seven.
For comparison, Jack Hughes’ statline read: the goal for a point, an even plus/minus, a shot on goal, a block, a giveaway and a 31-percent faceoff average. He had 13:50 of ice time, including 5:30 on the power play.
Quinn Hughes, who is a defenseman, so admittedly, this is apples-to-oranges here, had two penalty minutes (a holding call against Coleman in the third period), a blocked shot and a takeaway in 22:41 of total ice time, including 6:01 on the PP.
For the Devils individually, Wayne Simmonds led in shots on goal with six while Coleman led in hits with four. Andy Greene, back in the lineup and back to his old form, blocked five shots to lead there while Simmonds also led in takeaways with a pair. Vatanen led in ice time with 26:35 total (6:15 on the power play and 8:32 shorthanded) and Coleman led the forwards with 19:44 total (8 minutes on the penalty kill in what was a really tightly called game by the officials).
So now, the Devils get five days off before their next game. That comes on Friday, October 25 at home against the Arizona Coyotes. So, with some time to rest, regroup, and bask in the glow of a two-game winning streak, New Jersey will hopefully come out of the starting blocks roaring next week.
In the meantime, congratulations to Jack Hughes and we will see you next Friday for Devils-Coyotes.