Devils’ comeback falls short in 6-4 loss to Canucks

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The Vancouver Canucks caught the New Jersey Devils coming off a tough game and playing without three major players and they took full advantage.

J.T. Miller and Elias Pettersson each scored twice and Quinn Hughes added three assists to lead the Canucks to a 6-4 victory over the pesky Devils on Saturday night in a game that New Jersey made interesting after twice falling behind by three-goal deficits.

“It feels good to win a road game on a big road trip so I liked a lot of our game today. I think we all felt pretty good about most of it,” J.T. Miller said. “I just think that’s a classic case of sitting back a little too much with the lead and they have a ton of talent over there so they’re gonna make plays.”

The game was supposed to be the second matchup of the three Hughes brothers in an NHL game but it never happened as Devils All-Star center Jack Hughes was sidelined by an upper-body injury sustained on Friday night. New Jersey was also without Timo Meier and Ondrej Palat because of injuries.

That left Luke Hughes of the Devils and Quinn Hughes to face off and the Canucks dominated with New Jersey coming off a very physical game at home on Friday night that saw No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks sustain a fractured jaw.

Conor Garland made a back-breaking goal for the Canucks late in the second period after the Devils cut down a 3-0 deficit to a goal and Thatcher Demko made 21 saves in his 100th career NHL win.

The Devils won the first meeting between all three Hughes brothers in Vancouver 6-5 on Dec. 5.

Colin Miller scored twice and Erik Haula and Brendan Smith once for New Jersey, which was outshot 42-25. Nico Daws made 36 saves for the Devils, who are now 1-7-1 in the second of back-to-back games.

After a scoreless first period, the Canucks jumped to a 3-0 lead in the opening 4:37 of the middle period. Pettersson scored on a deflection at 41 seconds and J.T. Miller converted twice in a 64-second span.

Haula cut the gap with 3-2 with 23 seconds left in the period but Garland tallied on a wraparound 12 seconds later.

Pettersson seemed to put the game out of reach early in the third period, scoring in close for his 17th goal and a 5-2 lead.

“It feels good,” Pettersson said. “Still I don’t like the way we kind of let them back in the game. It’s a win in the end but also we want to do better at the end.”

Colin Miller and Smith scored in under a two-minute span to give the Canucks something to worry about with seven minutes to play. It also forced coach Rock Tocchet to take a time.

New Jersey had a late power play and one outstanding chance but Dakota Joshua iced the game with an empty-net goal with 1:11 to go.

“They had us on our heels. Their energy was incredible to start the game,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “We didn’t win enough battles. I thought we hung in there — tough goal at the end of the period after we made it 3-2 — but pretty resilient group when you can get down to the third and force them in a timeout and we had a great look, the Nico (Hischier) to Haula power-play chance.”

After the game, Ruff said defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler broke his foot early in the second period. New Jersey lost defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a pectoral injury on Dec. 1. They started the season as the Devils No. 1 defensive pair.


Canucks: At the N.Y. Rangers on Monday.

Devils: At Tampa Bay on Thursday.