Canucks 6, Devils 4: Lotto Line hits the jackpot

Led by J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, the Vancouver Canucks bought their first win in New Jersey since 2012.

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“The Lotto Line hit the jackpot tonight,” they had been shouting on the streets on Saturday evening.

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They usually weren’t incorrect.

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Rick Tocchet dug into his bag of tips on Saturday evening in New Jersey and pulled out an outdated — although unfamiliar to him — favorite for the Vancouver Canucks: lining up J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.

And what a variety by the coach. They had been the important thing to victory, serving to out on 5 of the Canucks’ six targets as Vancouver knocked off the Devils 6-4 in Newark.

The final time the trio spent a lot time in any respect collectively was the 2021-22 season — they solely performed collectively for 11 minutes final season — however even that wasn’t something just like the 2019-20 season, Miller’s first in Vancouver and the season they had been just about an unique trio.

They almost had a purpose within the first, Boeser placing the puck within the internet however Miller was caught on video disrupting Nico Daws’ efforts within the New Jersey crease.

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But it surely didn’t matter, because the Canucks saved swarming the online. It took them a interval to interrupt by — they outshot New Jersey 17-5 within the first — however as soon as the second began, there was no stopping the Lotto Line.

Pettersson scored on his first shift of the interval, then Miller scored on every of their subsequent two shifts.

It was a tour de pressure efficiency by the Canucks’ three finest forwards, which was good given how the Canucks almost blew the sport within the third interval.

Andrei Kuzmenko of the Vancouver Canucks skates towards the New Jersey Devils throughout the first interval at Prudential Middle Jan. 6, 2024 in Newark, New Jersey. Picture by Bruce Bennett /Getty Photographs

Kuzmenko’s return

But once more, Andrei Kuzmenko was again within the lineup.

And but once more, the duty was clear: simply be more practical away from the puck.

“When you’re trusted to be a middle-drive man, you need to be a middle-drive man. You possibly can’t do it now and again. It’s essential,” the coach mentioned earlier than the sport.

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He couched it as saying it utilized to the entire group however the query was centred on Kuzmenko and it was clear he was considering of particular issues about what he was seeing Kuzmenko not doing. “Coming again within the slot, clearly no one’s good, however you’ve bought to cease within the slot and defend.”

Whether or not he did it constantly, we’ll see, however when it comes to puck possession, Kuzmenko was oustanding.

When he was on the ice — he skated on a second line with Ilya Mikheyev and Pius Suter — the Canucks outshot the Devils by 16.

How far he’s come

Kuzmenko led a really good rush late within the second interval, but it surely doesn’t occur and not using a fabulous move by Noah Juulsen.

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Juulsen isn’t usually identified for his puck abilities, however his recreation has proven a lot progress this season, that’s the signal of a participant who’s brimming with confidence.

Tocchet was stuffed with reward for Juulsen earlier than Christmas. Juulsen had been a scratch earlier within the season, sitting out for 11 video games in a row. However he didn’t pout, the coach mentioned. As a substitute he bore down, and labored with assistant coached Sergei Gonchar and Adam Foote, Tocchet mentioned.

“He actually struggled early. I gotta give him quite a lot of credit score as a result of he’s actually labored hardwith Sergey and footy on positioning and puck choices,” he mentioned.

Scorching begin

The Canucks didn’t get a purpose within the first regardless of dominating play.

That they saved their foot down on the pedal within the second was a credit score to them.

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Taking part in the Further

The Lotto Line bought a fourth purpose within the third interval, a wonderful a number of move sequence that concerned Quinn Hughes leaping into the frenzy to be an additional possibility.

He laid the puck off to Boeser, who fired an ideal move off his again hand to Pettersson, who made no mistake and buried his second purpose of the sport.

Cowl the slot

After quite a lot of pre-game chatter from Tocchet about overlaying off the slot, it stood out that New Jersey’s two third interval targets, which pulled them to 5-4, had been each on performs the place the Canucks’ backcheck left the highest of the slot open.

Cashing the cheque

Conor Garland’s purpose late within the second would get up as the sport winner and it was a basic, good effort from the winger.

He bought low, saved management as he swooped round behind the Devils

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And on the finish of the sport, credit score to Dakota Joshua for locating the puck and utilizing his power to keep up possession within the last minute with the Devils’ internet empty.

He’d taken a penalty, which the Canucks killed off, then got here on the ice and helped get the puck out earlier than taking the move from Miller who handed up an opportunity at a hat trick.

Joshua made a spin-around transfer after which fired the puck on internet.

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The Canucks have but to blow a lead when main after two durations: they’re 22-0.

That’s cool, but it surely’s additionally value noting the worst group within the league when main after two is the Ottawa Senators, who’re 11-3.

Why no purpose?

Regardless that Miller was pushed into the New Jersey crease within the first interval, the NHL rule guide is obvious: you’ll be able to’t stop a goalie from enjoying his place.

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From the NHL: “Video assessment decided Vancouver’s J.T. Miller had a big presence within the crease and made contact with goaltender Nico Daws that impaired his capacity to play his place previous to Brock Boeser’s purpose. The choice was made in accordance with Rule 69.1, which states partially, ‘Objectives needs to be disallowed provided that: (1) an attacking participant, both by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s capacity to maneuver freely inside his crease or defend his purpose.’”

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Suggestion for Bedard

Will Conor Bedard, who’s out with a damaged jaw suffered Friday evening towards the Devils, discover a technique to defend his jaw, as Tocchet did 30 years in the past?

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Vancouver Canucks vs. New York Rangers

4 p.m., Madison Sq. BackyardTV: SN Pacific TV, Radio: Sportsnet 650

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