The Devils entered the fist half of a back-to-back looking to set a franchise record. Coming into tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, the Devils had won 12 straight games over the Canucks. That equaled New Jersey’s longest streak of victories over one team in their history.
But Vancouver avoided a fate that dated back to November 25, 2014 when the streak began. They finally got the Devils off their back with a resounding 6-3 win tonight.
The Devils arrived in British Columbia on Sunday having taken six of a possible seven points on their previous homestand – losing only to the Winnipeg Jets in that series. On the homestand, 14 different Devils recorded at least a point.
There were some slight (yet still important) roster changes for the game. Center Nico Hischier was back from his lower body injury that kept him out of the last few games. While it was good to get the captain back, at the same time, defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler was lost to a “non-COVID-related illness” and was scratched along with Mason Geertsen and Christian Jaros. Colton White slotted in on defense in Siegenthaler’s place.
Siegenthaler’s absence was announced just 30 minutes or so prior to game time.
With Siegenthaler missing action tonight, that leaves rookie Dawson Mercer as the lone Devil this season who has played in every game.
Also on the injury front, Erika Wachter, on the MSG+2 pregame show, talked about the returns of Miles Wood, Tyce Thompson and Janne Kuokkanen. All three have resumed skating on their individual roads to coming back from injuries. Coach Lindy Ruff said that thought was given to bringing them west on the road trip, but that the team felt better if they stayed home to skate and workout. It would be less strenuous than traveling and allow them to get their work done as they try to each make their way back.
In goal, Nico Daws got the start, making his eighth consecutive start for the Devils. He had played well for the majority of the Devils homestand and seemed to be the hot hand. He became the youngest Devils goaltender to ever record a win in a shootout in the last game against the Anaheim Ducks as mentioned on the MSG+2 broadcast by Steve Cangialosi.
Unfortunately, that ran out for him tonight as he would get pulled after giving up four Vancouver goals. He ended the game with 17 saves on 21 total Canucks shots for an .810 save percentage on the night. He did not see a power play or shorthanded shot as the Canucks did not have a power play against him. All of the shots he faced were at five-versus-five.
He was pulled in favor of Jon Gillies in the second period. Gillies, seeing action for the first time in about 18 days (in a loss at Chicago where he was pulled), stopped eight shots on ten Vancouver attempts for an .800 save percentage. He stopped two of the Canucks’ three shorthanded shots, did not face a power play shot (even though the Canucks did have a power play chance against him – they finished 0-for-1 as a team) and got six of the seven shots he saw at even strength.
Between the two New Jersey goaltenders, Vancouver ended with a game total of 31 shots on goal.
The Canucks countered with Thatcher Demko, Demko was a little more timely for Vancouver, stopping 32 of the Devils’ 35 total shots for a .914 save percentage on the night. He was equal to the Devils’ lone shorthanded chance and all four of their power play shots (the Devils were 0-for-3 on the man advantage). At full strength, Demko stopped 27 of 30 shots against.
In the last meeting between these teams at the Prudential Center in February, the Devils won 7-1, which is something the Canucks were certainly looking to avenge.
The game ended with the Devils bench shortening immediately. Pavel Zacha, on his first shift of the game, was knocked down on a rush up the right side and was checked down legally. He landed pretty awkwardly, going down with his left skate getting sort of stuck in a rut or something on the ice as he tumbled into the end boards. He would not return for the rest of the game as he was being evaluated as per Ruff in the postgame. He played only 48 seconds.
Vancouver took the lead a few minutes later with 3:34 gone by in the opening period. JT Miller took a pass from Tanner Pearson and skated into the Devils zone. He then curled back into the neutral zone after not liking the look he was getting. This gave him time to bank a pass to Brad Hunt off of the boards. Hunt got behind the Devils defense and blasted a shot in off of the far post as he was rushing up the left-wing side. The goal gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead.
Daws and Demko settled in with a few nice saves following that goal. Daws made a huge stop on Miller halfway through the period as Miller was shooting point blank, just unloading with a drive that Daws needed to move right to left in his crease to get his left pad on and make the save.
Following that though, the Canucks would take advantage of a chance and make it 2-0. Vancouver won a faceoff deep in the Devils zone and Bo Horvat got a shot off on Daws. Daws made the initial save and the puck popped up into the air in front of him. Nils Hoglander was able to bat the puck out of midair and in behind Daws at 10:59 gone by in the game to double the Vancouver lead.
It was great hand-eye coordination and there was not even a question that it was played with a high stick. Brock Boeser had the secondary assist.
The Devils did cut the lead in half heading into the first intermission however.
At the 17:17 mark of the first, Yegor Sharangovich carried the puck into the Canucks zone. Ryan Graves was trailing and got a pass from Sharangovich that he simply snapped by Demko to make it 2-1.
Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau did have thoughts about challenging for offsides, but replays showed that both Sharangovich (the puck carrier) and Graves had stayed onside and the goal was good.
New Jersey roared back to tie things early in the second period at just 4:25 in. The Canucks had been applying sustained pressure in the Devils zone. But Jesper Bratt was able to block a Tyler Myers shot and recover the puck. He made a backhanded flip pass to Jack Hughes. Hughes skated under the puck, settled it down in the neutral zone and was off behind Myers, the lone Vancouver defender back. The puck was sort of on end as he came in on Demko, but was able to get a shot off on him and score to tie the game at two.
That tie was relatively short lived, though.
At the 8:34 mark of the second, Horvat intercepted a pass in the Canucks defensive zone, beating Jimmy Vesey up the left-wing side. Horvat had the space to wind up and just unload a shot (later said to be clocked at 96.5 miles per hour by Ken Daneyko) that Daws got a piece of, but still trickled through him to give Vancouver back the lead at 3-2. The goal came unassisted.
Less than twenty seconds later, Pearson doubled Vancouver’s lead again. On this goal, Miller dropped a pass to Myers just inside the Devils blue line, who made a slick slap pass towards the Devils net that Pearson was able to redirect by Daws. This gave the Canucks the 4-2 lead.
Following this goal, Daws was pulled in favor of Gillies as the Devils just felt the need to shake things up at that point.
Sure enough, New Jersey had one last gasp in them.
At the 11:55 mark of the second period, following a big glove save made by Gillies at the other end, Sharangovich took a pass from Jack Hughes and got a quick shot off the rush on Demko.
Demko could not handle the rebound and Nathan Bastian was crashing towards the net. He was able to spin off of his check and tap the loose puck past the Canuck goaltender on his backhand to make it 4-3 heading into the second intermission.
However, there was one more event that was about to shape the third period before time ran out on the second frame.
At the 18:02 mark of the second, Vancouver took the first penalty of the game as Tyler Motte swung around at the top of the Devils zone behind a play and hit Andreas Johnsson in the face with his stick.
Johnsson was bleeding and a double minor for high sticking was immediately assessed to Motte.
The Devils would have four minutes of power play time with the majority of it occurring on fresh ice at the beginning of the third period.
New Jersey got chances. Nico Hischier hit the crossbar early in the power play in the second, but the Devils could not actually convert as they headed to the new period.
In the third, they would have two seconds to use on the first half of the double minor, but Vancouver would kill that easily.
Things got pretty bleak for the Devils when the second half of the double minor began.
With 1:24 gone by in the third – with the Devils still on that man advantage – Horvat notched his second goal of the game, this time shorthanded.
The Devils were unable to move the puck up top in the Vancouver zone. Quinn Hughes got it from Miller and passed up to Horvat, who was alone with only Dougie Hamilton to beat. He got in behind Hamilton and snapped a shot by Gillies in stride to make it 5-3 Canucks.
The Canucks would not only get a shorthanded goal on the double minor, but would also end up killing the whole thing. A double whammy for the Devils.
The Canucks added one more before the game was done. At 12:10 gone by in the final frame, Vancouver’s Motte got the puck in deep into the Devils zone.
Luke Schenn recovered it and skated it up towards the middle of the ice. He got a shot off on Gillies and Juho Lammikko, camped in front, was able to get his stick on it the higher shot and redirect it down and past Gillies.
The Situation Room in Toronto had a look at it and it was deemed a good goal – not played with a high stick – by referee Wes McCauley. Lindy Ruff thought about using his coach’s challenge for goalie interference but opted against it and it was now 6-3 Canucks.
And that was out final.
The Devils outshot the Canucks 35 to 31. New Jersey won 47-percent of the game’s faceoffs with Michael McLeod leading the way with a 69-percent personal winning percentage to lead the Devils centers.
In a game that did not feature many penalties, the Devils accumulated two team penalty minutes while the Canucks received six. Vancouver won the physical game, outhitting the Devils 25 to 16. Each team registered 14 blocked shots while the Devils had four team giveaways and the Canucks had nine.
Hamilton led all Devils skaters with 23:17 of total ice time (including 3:07 of power play time and 12 seconds of PK time). Damon Severson led the defensemen in shorthanded time with 1:48 out of his 22:25 of total TOI. He also played 2:53 on the PP.
Up front, Jesper Bratt led in total ice time with 21:43 of total time (including 3:56 on the PP). Vesey got the most shorthanded time (1:28 out of his 15:29 of total ice time) while recording just 23 seconds on the power play.
Stats-wise, Jack Hughes and Bratt led in shots on goal with five each. Bastian and Severson led in hits with three. Hamilton was a leader in blocks with three. In personal giveaways, Jack Hughes, Tomas Tatar, Ty Smith and PK Subban each had one while in personal takeaways, Hughes and Severson led with one each.
So, in the ongoing battle of the Hughes brothers, Quinn finally achieves victory over his brother in four tries.
The Devils, on the other hand, will travel right away to Calgary for a tilt later tonight against the Flames.
Puck drop for that one is again 10 PM ET and the game will be shown on MSG+. We will, of course, have coverage for you following the game late tonight/early Thursday morning.
In the meantime, enjoy your Wednesday morning/day/evening Devils fans!