NEWARK, N.J. — Jack and Quinn Hughes have come a long way from playing mini-sticks in the basement. That experience of growing up and chasing NHL dreams culminated when their respective clubs — the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks — faced off for the first time of the season on Saturday, also marking the first of what should be many games between the Hughes brothers.
And they didn't hold back.
In the Devils' 1-0 victory over the Canucks, Jack netted his first NHL goal on the power play and finished with two shots while also playing on the top line between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. As for Quinn, he finished with two penalty minutes, a takeaway and a blocked shot while logging a team-leading 16:40 at even strength. The young Canucks defenseman even received a promotion to the first power-play unit, to boot.
DEVIL OF A TIME: Jack Hughes finally nets first NHL goal
Beyond the scoresheet, there was a competitive edge to their games; Jack was showing off his poise with the puck and his offense, and Quinn tried to be more physical and aggressive on the backcheck — even against his brother. Offensively, Quinn quarterbacked the man advantage and displayed strong two-way play.
"You know as fun as it is, you know, it's also a weird dynamic and it's really fun," Quinn said after the loss of playing against Jack, adding, "I want to see him have success, you know, not too much against us but you know, if we're going to lose 1-0, I'm happy he did it . . ."
At times, the showdown did get a bit strange for the brothers as they battled along the boards and weren't afraid to square up against each other. At one point, their sibling rivalry intertwined with the intensity the league presents; as Quinn exited the zone with the puck, Jack went against him 1-on-1, but Quinn was able to stiff-arm his younger brother, who fell flat onto the ice.
Said Jack, 18, to reporters: "It's funny looking over and seeing [Quinn], but at the same time, you're dialed in, it's a tough league . . . you got to be on your A-game so it was good to get the win vs. him and a lot of fun to play against him."
— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) October 19, 2019
Quinn laughed that sequence off and seemed to enjoy the overall prospect of the meaningful showdown, but as he pointed out, the ending to the storyline wasn't a happy one from Vancouver's perspective. The Canucks went 0-for-7 on the man advantage and got blanked as MacKenzie Blackwood stopped all 25 shots that came his way.
That result in itself — which saw little momentum for a 4-3-0 Vancouver team — presented the 20-year-old blueliner with a case of cognitive dissonance.
"I'm happy for [Jack] but I'm here to win and I'm here to do a job," Quinn said. "You know, there's a lot of brotherly love. Obviously, I'm going to congratulate him and stuff, but I wish we were winning 1-0."
The two didn't get much time to talk to each other on the ice, but all of the emotions of the game will likely be on hold as both of them, with their family in town, revel in Jack's milestone.
BROTHERHOOD: Hughes brothers rally behind each other
Jack and Quinn will face off again in the final regular-season game between their teams in Vancouver on Nov. 20.
"[Quinn's] a good player. It's fun to watch him play. I'm glad we're done playing him for a little bit and I just get to watch him," the 2019 first-overall pick said of his elder brother.
As the two continue to jumpstart their careers — nearly 3,000 miles apart from one another — their confidence continues to grow with each game, but there's still work to be done as they build a hockey dynasty.
"It's cool, it's nice but we're both rookies and haven't done anything yet," Quinn said. "Our little brother, Luke, is still young and there's a lot of great families out there but I think we're trending the right way. Just got to keep going."