New Jersey Devils vs. Vancouver Canucks Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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The Vancouver Canucks have spent the first half of the season becoming one of the NHL’s surprise teams.

On Saturday night, the Canucks will face a stern test when they continue a season-long seven-game trip by visiting the New Jersey Devils in Newark.

The Canucks were off Friday, one day after beginning their trek with a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

The Devils, meanwhile, will complete a back-to-back set after overcoming a pair of one-goal deficits Friday night in a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite alternating losses with wins over the last five games (2-2-1), the Canucks will enter Saturday atop the Pacific Division, two points ahead of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The upcoming schedule will provide a postseason-like test for the Canucks, who will play three games in four days against teams that made the playoffs last season. Vancouver is slated to visit the New York Rangers on Monday before opposing the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

“You’re going to go into some tough buildings,” coach Rick Tocchet said following the Canucks’ most recent home game, a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night. “We’ve got to have a resolve to play Canuck hockey — smart hockey, but also play fast. I think it’s going to be a seven-game grind, but a lot of teams got to go through it. And we’ve got to be excited about it, meet that challenge.”

The Canucks, who rank second in the NHL with 143 goals, began the road trip in quiet fashion Thursday against St. Louis, when they were held to one goal for the second time in three games and the third time in their last eight games dating to Dec. 16. Vancouver scored one goal or less just twice in its first 30 games.

“Obviously disappointed — 1-1 going into the third, you want to find a way to get points out of that,” Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes said of Thursday’s game.

The Devils continued heating up Friday, when they won for the fifth time in six games (5-1-0) to move into one of the Eastern Conference wild-card spots. Simon Nemec and Michael McLeod scored the tying and game-winning goals in a span of 6:15 before Tyler Toffoli found the empty net with 27 seconds left.

“No one panicked,” McLeod said. “We were really confident going into the third that we were going to tie it up and then win the game. It’s really good to see.”

The comeback win was the NHL-leading 14th of the season for the Devils, who have overcome multiple one-goal deficits in three of their last five victories.

However, Friday’s win may have been a costly one for New Jersey, which lost center Jack Hughes — Quinn’s brother — to an undisclosed injury late in the third period.

Devils coach Lindy Ruff had no update on Jack Hughes, who scored a team-record 99 points in 2022-23 and leads New Jersey with 45 points this season despite missing four games with a shoulder injury.

–Field Level Media

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