VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Bo Horvat had two goals and an assist to lead the Vancouver Canucks past the New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Tuesday night.
“He was a true leader tonight,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They were taking it to us a little bit until (Horvat) scored that short-handed goal to start the third period. On the bench, he was vocal. He was a true captain.”
Tanner Pearson added a goal and an assist for the Canucks (30-24-7). Brad Hunt, Nils Hoglander and Juho Lahmmikko also scored, and J.T. Miller had three assists to extend his point streak to 13 games.
Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist for the Devils (22-33-5). Ryan Graves and Nathan Bastian also scored, and Yegor Sharangovich added two assists.
Thatcher Demko made 32 saves to help snap Vancouver’s two-game skid.
Horvat, a 26-year-old center, has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in his last 12 games.
“I don’t feel like I’ve changed my game a whole lot from the beginning of the year, it’s just a matter of it going in and things happening,” Horvat said.
Nico Daws stopped 17 of 21 shots for the Devils before being pulled midway through the second period. John Gillies made eight saves in relief.
New Jersey coach Lindy Ruff said the move wasn’t only about Daws’ performance, but about trying to swing momentum.
“Puck went through him on a couple of goals. He’s played well for us. But a couple things there and I thought we fought back well,” Ruff said. “We got a big save from (Gillies) right away and then we had our opportunities to probably change the complexion of the game. But you’ve got to give Demko credit. He made a couple really big saves for them at critical times.”
The victory for Vancouver came after the Devils routed the Canucks 7-2 in New Jersey on Feb. 28.
Vancouver made it 6-3 midway through the third period when defenseman Luke Schenn sent a long drive toward the New Jersey net and Lahmmikko tipped it past Gillies.
The Devils started the third with just over two minutes on the man advantage after Canucks forward Tyler Motte was handed a double-minor for high-sticking Andreas Johnsson late in the second.
Demko preserved Vancouver’s lead with a brilliant glove save to stop Hughes from scoring his second goal of the night at the 1:06 mark.
Quinn Hughes — Jack’s older brother — then sprang Horvat for a short-handed breakaway and the Canucks captain went top shelf for his 22nd goal of the season, putting Vancouver up 5-3.
Having the power play split up over two periods wasn’t an excuse for losing momentum, Ruff said.
“We got fresh ice, we got fresh bodies, we’ve been able to go over what we want to do, and we made a critical mistake and that hurt us,” he said.
For the elder Hughes, getting the victory was more about climbing the NHL standings than bragging rights over his brother.
“It was nice to beat him finally but at the same time, at this point of the season, we needed a win so badly, it wasn’t really about that,” Quinn Hughes said.
After falling behind by two midway through the second, New Jersey took advantage of an odd play to bite into Vancouver’s lead.
A shot from Sharangovich hit Demko in the mask and as the goalie scrambled for the rebound, Bastian swatted the loose puck into the net from his knees for his 11th goal of the season 11:55 into the second.
Pearson gave the Canucks a 4-2 cushion earlier in the period, directing a slap pass from defenseman Tyler Myers past an out-of-position Daws.
The goal prompted the Devils to swap Daws for Gillies.
Just 17 seconds before Pearson scored, Horvat found the back of the New Jersey net.
He forced a turnover at the Vancouver blue line, creating a breakaway, then launched a long shot that trickled through Daws to put the Canucks up 3-2.
“That was just pure I don’t know what I’m doing, to be honest with you,” Horvat said. “I think that was my first slapshot goal. I’m not even lying. I was kind of gassed at the end of a shift and I knew I didn’t have enough strength to throw a good snap shot at him so I wound up and luckily it went in.”
The Devils tied it 4:25 into the second when Jesper Bratt flipped a high pass into the neutral zone. The play unleashed Hughes on a breakaway and the star center sent a shot under Demko’s arm from the bottom of the slot for his 19th goal.
Graves cut New Jersey’s deficit to one ahead of the first intermission, whipping a shot from inside the faceoff circle that beat Demko at the 17:17 mark.
Vancouver went up 2-0 midway through the first when Hoglander jammed in the rebound of Horvat’s shot. It was the Swedish winger’s 10th goal of the season but just his second in the last 26 games.
After a string of slow starts in recent games, the Canucks opened the scoring 3:34 in.
Miller waited patiently in New Jersey territory before slicing a pass to Hunt. The defenseman fired a slap shot from inside the faceoff circle to beat Daws.
The assist extended Miller’s point streak to 13 games, with 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) going back to Feb. 12. He is the first Canucks player with a 13-game point streak since Ryan Kessler accomplished the feat in 2010.
NOTES: The Devils were 0 for 3 with the man advantage. The Canucks went scoreless on their lone power play. … New Jersey center Pavel Zacha went hard into the boards early in the first period and stayed on the ice for several moments before skating off with a trainer. He went directly to the dressing room and did not return to the game.
Devils: Play at Calgary on Wednesday.
Canucks: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday.
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