Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Canucks game day: Devils will be without leading scorer Jack Hughes
1 month ago
It’s the second Battle of the Hughes Brothers this season when the Vancouver Canucks (24-11-3) visit the New Jersey Devils (21-14-2) at Prudential Center. However, only two Hughes brothers will be available for the game. Quinn and Luke are expected to suit up but middle brother Jack – the Devils leading scorer – is out indefinitely after leaving New Jersey’s game last night against Chicago with an upper body injury.
Jack and Luke got the upper hand on Quinn when the Devils defeated the Canucks 6-5 in a wild one in Vancouver on December 5th. That night the Devils built a 5–2 lead through two periods, but needed a goal with 34 seconds remaining in the third period to win it after a frantic Canuck comeback had tied the game at 5-5. Jack Hughes had a goal and two assists while Luke scored a power play goal. Quinn Hughes had a pair of assists in a losing cause. The six goals by an opponent remains the season high against the Canucks.
What we know
After being a healthy scratch for the fifth time on Tuesday in St. Louis, Andrei Kuzmenko returns to the Canucks line-up replacing Linus Karlsson. Carson Soucy makes his long-awaited return to the line-up on defence. He’ll play for the first time since suffering a lower leg injury in Montreal on November 12th. Soucy will take Nikita Zadorov’s spot in the line-up as the big Russian is listed as day to day with with a nagging injury. Thatcher Demko will make a third straight start in goal. He will take a second crack at his 100th NHL victory after coming up short in his bid on Thursday night.
Conor Garland scored the Canucks lone goal in St. Louis. It came 1:57 into the hockey game. The Canucks have found the back of the net on their first shot on goal in each of their last two games. The Garland-Teddy Blueger-Dakota Joshua line has combined for 12+21=33 in their last 13 games.
Despite leading the NHL in goals per game, the Canucks have a number of forwards that have gone cold over the past 10 games. Nils Höglander, Ilya Mikheyev and Sam Lafferty each have just one goal over that span. As a team the Canucks have drawn just one power play in each of the last two games. They scored on Tuesday against Ottawa but failed to muster a shot on goal in their lone opportunity against the Blues.
The Canucks are 8-2-2 in their last 12 games, however they have two wins in their last five (2-2-1). They have not dropped consecutive games since November 16th in Calgary and November 19th at home to Seattle.
It’s back to back action for the Devils who beat Chicago 4-2 on home ice last night. New Jersey has now won two straight and five of its last six games. Alexander Holtz, Simon Nemec, Mike McLeod and Tyler Toffoli into an empty net scored for the Devils while Vitek Vanicek stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in goal. With the quick turnaround, the Devils may go with Nico Daws in net tonight. Daws was recalled from Utica after the Christmas roster freeze and is 2-0 in his two starts so far this season.
Jack Hughes left the game with an apparent arm injury late in the third period last night. He leads the Devils with 45 points on the season and on Thursday was selected to the NHL All Star game for a third straight season. He along with Timo Meier and Ondrej Palat will all miss tonight’s game. Former Canuck Tyler Toffoli leads the Devils with 16 goals and has 23 goals in 45 career games against Vancouver.
The Devils entered play on Friday with the best power play in the NHL, however they went 0 for six against the Hawks dropping them to third in the league at 29.1%. Interestingly they are 13th on home ice at 22.0% but tops in the NHL on the road at 36.2%.
With their win last night, the Devils improved to 9-8-2 on home ice. They have more road wins (12) than they do at home so far this season. They are 1-6-1 in the second half of back to backs this season. Jersey is scheduled to play an NHL-high 16 sets of back to back games this season.
The Devils will be wearing their alternate jerseys for tonight’s contest.
Over the past decade, the Devils have had utter dominance over the Canucks. Not only is Jack 6-1 head to head against Quinn in their time in the NHL together, but the Canucks are 1-11-4 the last 16 times they have dealt with the Devils and are 0-6-2 in their last eight trips to the Garden State.
Tonight’s referees: Cody Beach and Eric Furlatt
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