VANCOUVER – For the second straight game, the Vancouver Canucks will attempt to avoid playoff elimination when they face the Vegas Golden Knights tonight in Edmonton. Vegas carries a 3-2 series lead into Game 6 of this NHL Western Conference semi-final.
Thatcher Demko was the star of the show on Tuesday turning in a 42 save performance in the Canucks 2-1 victory that allowed them to live to see another day. It was Demko’s first career playoff start and his first start since March 10th. Demko was forced into action when Jacob Markstrom suffered a suspected groin injury. The 24-year-old San Diego native is expected to get the start again tonight.
After Shea Theodore opened the scoring midway through the second period, Brock Boeser responded for the Canucks just 24 seconds later. Boeser then set-up Elias Pettersson for his seventh post-season goal 3:19 into the third period. That stood as the game winner as Demko stopped all 15 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. The final shots on the night were 43-17 in the Golden Knights favour. JT Miller set up both Canucks goals and has set-up the last six goals his team has scored.
Tuesday’s game was the first time in the playoffs that Vegas did not win when opening the scoring. The Golden Knights are now 8-1 in the post-season when getting the jump on their opponent. The Canucks are 7-1 when they score first. Vegas has opened the scoring in four of the five games in this series so far.
Game 5 was the first game of this series that did not feature a power play goal. The Canucks went 0/3 with the man-advantage while the Golden Knights were 0/2. The Knights are 4/15 (26.7%) on the power play in the series while the Canucks are 3/19 (15.8%).
As a team, the Canucks have scored 10 goals in this series. They had five in their 5-2 Game 2 victory and have five in the other four games they’ve played. Miller leads the team in series scoring with 0+6=6 while Elias Petterson has 3+2-5. Shea Theodore leads the Knights -- and all scorers in the series -- with 1+7=8 followed by Mark Stone with 2+5=7. Vegas has outscored Vancouver 16-10 in the series and 12-7 at even-strength.
The leading goal-scorers in the series are Max Pacioretty (4) with Pettersson, Bo Horvat and Alex Tuch all scoring three times. The Canucks have not had any depth scoring through the first five games against Vegas. The top seven Canucks scorers have combined for 9+19=28 with Tanner Pearson’s empty net goal in Game 2 the only offensive contribution from the other 13 skaters that have suited up in the series.
The Knights have a decision to make in goal tonight with the possibility of a Game 7 tomorrow. Robin Lehner is 2-2 in the series with a 1.53 GAA, a 94.0% save percentage and a pair of shutouts while Marc-Andre Fleury is 1-0 with a 3.00 and a 90.3% save percentage. Fleury back-stopped Vegas to a 5-3 win in Game 4 on Sunday.
With Demko delivering a victory on Tuesday night, four different goalies have won the last four games in this series (Game 2: Markstrom, Game 3: Lehner, Game 4: Fleury, Game 5: Demko). It’s the first time since the last time the Canucks were in the playoffs that an NHL post-season series has seen four different goalies earn decisions. In 2015 against Calgary, Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack posted wins for the Canucks while Jonas Hiller had three wins and Karri Ramo had the other for the Flames.
POSSIBLE CANUCKS LINE-UP
POSSIBLE GOLDEN KNIGHTS LINE-UP