Instant Reaction: Canucks can’t overcome bad first 40 minutes, lose to Devils 6-5 in Hughes Bowl

Photo credit:© Simon Fearn-USA TODAY Sports
David Quadrelli
6 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy where we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same. Cody Severtson is on Stanchies duties and Mike Liu will be writing The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report.
You knew what tonight was going to be about. We all did. Prior to puck drop, the trio of brothers posed for a photo to commemorate the occasion.
The game opened with the Canucks controlling the puck and generating some dangerous offensive zone time — only to give up two odd man rush chances against. The first came off the stick of Jesper Bratt in alone and was handled admirably by Thatcher Demko. The fact the Canucks didn’t learn from this is arguably the most troubling thing, as they once again allowed Bratt to move in with time and space on Demko. This time, Bratt made no mistake and scored his ninth goal of the year.
Collin Miller took a tripping penalty after a strong effort through the neutral zone from Teddy Blueger sprung Dakota Joshua on what would have been a 2-on-1 for the Canucks.
The Cancuks’ power play — which is just one of four in the league clicking at a lower rate than the Devils — wasted little time in getting the game tied up, with Brock Boeser snapping the puck into the crease for JT Miller to bang home.
During the first stoppage in play tonight, the Canucks welcomed back Travis Green — who now runs the Devils’ power play as an assistant coach in New Jersey — by flashing the former head coach on the videoboard with PA announcer Al Murdoch announcing Green’s return. The Rogers Arena crowd cheered, and it felt like a fitting tribute.
But the players didn’t want the tribute to stop there, clearly. To further tribute Green, the players on the ice defended the same way they used to for most of Green’s tenure. The result was the Devils going up 2-1 off a chance that Demko had no real chance of stopping. This goal was not a good look for Tyler Myers.
Another power play opportunity shortly thereafter gave the Canucks another prime chance to tie things up, but they were unable to strike with the man advantage this time around, thanks to some great luck for Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek followed by a critical shot block by the 2024 Selke Trophy Winner Nico Hischier:
The Canucks continued their tribute to Green, as Jack Hughes made it 3-1, then Michael McLeod made it 4-1:
Dakota Joshua scored with 20 seconds left in the first period, to at least give the Canucks something resembling momentum as they headed off for the first intermission.
And then the first period ended. 4-2 Devils. No, that wasn’t the final score.
In the second, both teams tightened things up. There were plenty of broken plays from both teams, with neither side willing to give an inch. It was a far more boring period of hockey for the Canucks, which was likely what the coaching staff was hoping for after the opening 20 minutes.
Of course, that wasn’t nearly fun enough for the players, who, continuing their tribute to their former head coach, took a bench minor for having too many men on the ice. The Canucks killed that one off, then went back to playing a quiet game at even strength. A John Marino interference penalty gave the Canucks a power play opportunity that they nearly converted on. Of course, after failing to score, they gave a breakaway to Marino, who exited the penalty box behind the Canucks’ defence. Because of course that’s what happened. Demko was sharp on that one.
To thank him for his efforts, the Canucks put the league’s top power play back on the man advantage. It was there that the youngest Hughes brother converted to make it 5-2 Devils heading into the third.
The third period gave the Canucks an early power play opportunity that they couldn’t capitalize on. It was back to quiet play at 5v5. That was, until JT Miller got LOUD!
You’ll see it in The Stanchies, but Miller’s effort on the forecheck and in the neutral zone in the leadup to Brock Boeser’s 18th goal of the season was exceptional. It was the kind of effort we just hadn’t seen from any Canuck through the first 40 minutes of play, and was a good example of Miller leading by example. Here’s Boeser’s 18th goal of the year:
The Canucks kept up the pressure, and an offensive zone faceoff win by Elias Pettersson led to Sam Lafferty tipping in a Quinn Hughes point shot to make it 5-4.
At this point, this game officially reached the “interesting” territory.
Nils Höglander was buzzing all night long, and his promotion to the JT Miller line was well-deserved. He got in on the forecheck all night long, and played a clean game defensively. Exactly what the coaching staff wants to see from him on a consistent basis. He was rewarded for his efforts when he went hard to the net and banged home a rebound to tie this one up for the Canucks with three and a half minutes to go.
The Zadorov-Myers pairing struggled tonight, and they saved their worst for last, with Myers failing to move the puck, allowing Jack Hughes to walk in on a breakaway. The non-call was so egregious that Hughes stopped playing, banging his stick on the boards and berating the official with the puck still in his skates. That sequence proved to be a bit of a momentum-shift for the Devils. Before the Myers turnover, the Canucks looked like they were in the driver’s seat.
On the very next shift, Jesper Bratt banged home a rebound to make it 6-5 Devils with 33 seconds to go. After burning their timeout, the Canucks pulled Demko, but it didn’t work out.
This one was the case of a bad first 40 minutes by the Canucks, a strong push led by the team’s best players, and coming up just short in what was a thrilling comeback attempt.
The perfect tribute to the Travis Green-era Canucks, complete.
What’s your instant reaction to tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments section below!

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