The Vancouver Canucks were shut out 5-0 in Game 1 by the Vegas Golden Knights. The Canucks came off a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 to advance to the second round. The Golden Knights sent the Chicago Blackhawks home after five games to move on.
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Vegas got a goal from Jonathan Marchessault in the first period to take an early 1-0 lead. They exploded in the second period, scoring three goals from Reilly Smith, Mark Stone, and Alex Tuch, extending their lead to 4-0. Max Pacioretty ended Canucks’ goaltender Jacob Markstrom’s night, scoring the fifth goal in the third period as Thatcher Demko came in to relieve the starter. Robin Lehner had a 26 save shutout to start the series.
Roussel and Reaves
Antoine Roussel started his agitating antics before Game 1 even started. The French forward started giving it to Lehner during warmup and received a stare from Ryan Reaves. In the first period, they went at it between whistles, which led to Reaves taunting Roussel by making chicken noises. That wasn’t the end of the interactions between the two players.
In the third period, Roussel missed a scoring chance, and a few seconds later, Reaves laid him out with a hit. After the whistle, Roussel hugged Reaves and received a confusing 10-minute misconduct. Game 1 ended with the two and their teammates involved in a scuffle. This is just the start of the rivalry between these two individuals, and it will be a talking point as the series moves forward.
The Golden Knights Are Deep
The Golden Knights have received production from their top three lines all playoffs long. Five different players scored for the Golden Knights in their 5-0 win. In Game 1, they got a goal from each of their top three lines. The Canucks haven’t had to deal with that so far in these playoffs against the Minnesota Wild and the Blues. The Wild and Blues relied on their top-six forwards to generate offense for them, while this isn’t the case for Vegas.
Tuch and Stone lead the team with five playoff goals each, with the former playing on the team’s third line. Tuch had one goal and one assist in Game 1, and along with his linemates, Nicholas Roy and Nick Cousins, they have combined for 16 points in nine games.
Canucks’ Top Players Need to Be Better
The Canucks’ top forwards Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson, and J.T. Miller registered just one shot on net all night long. The club will need production from all three of them if they want to match the Golden Knights’ top six. Bo Horvat also struggled as he lost Marchessault on the game’s opening goal. These four were responsible for the Canucks’ quick start in the first round against the Blues.
Pettersson and Miller will pick up their game as they have answered the bell quite a few times these playoffs. Horvat scored four goals in the first two games in the first round but hasn’t scored since. The captain is used in a shutdown role more than an offensive one, which is why his mistake on the first goal is unacceptable. Boeser finally scored his first goal in Game 6 on Friday night. He has one goal in his last eight games and only has three goals in the playoffs. He will be a player that will need to step up against Vegas.
Vegas’ Goaltending Situation
Lehner shut out the Canucks in Game 1, but it is hard not to stop and wonder if we will see Marc-Andre Fleury at any point in this series. Fleury has a 12-2-2 record against the Canucks in his career and has not lost to the club since 2006. His agent made headlines as he posted a cryptic picture of the goaltender with a sword going through his back and head coach Pete DeBoer’s name on it.
Fleury had his agent remove the image from his Twitter account. It will be interesting to see if the Golden Knights go back to the goaltender later in the series. The Canucks managed to make the Blues replace Jordan Binnington with Jake Allen mid-way through the series. Vegas has not had to worry about returning to Fleury in the 2020 playoffs. That is because Lehner hasn’t given the team a reason to replace him, since he has a 6-1 record in the postseason.
Although the Canucks had moments where they looked threatening, for the most part, they looked sluggish in Game 1. This isn’t surprising as the team has played five games in the last eight days. This includes two back-to-back games, followed by an important Game 5, a series-deciding Game 6, and now Game 1. On the other end, the Golden Knights haven’t played a game since Tuesday, when they eliminated the Blackhawks. The result of playing so many games in a few days was obvious on Sunday night.
Quinn Hughes had one of the worst games of his season so far. He had a tough time making passes, although the Golden Knights contributed to that by zeroing in on the rookie. Markstrom has had a heavy workload as well. He tied Kirk McLean as the only Canuck goalie to have six 30+ save games in a row and was on his way to breaking it before being pulled in the third period.
It will be interesting to see if the Canucks get a second win and can bounce back in this series. They will need to be better as their efforts in Game 1 were not enough against an elite Golden Knights team.
Will the Canucks Bounce Back in Game 2?
The Canucks are now down 1-0 in this series against the Golden Knights. This isn’t anything new for the Canucks as they have been here before. In their Qualifying Round series against the Wild, the club was shutout in Game 1. They won three games in a row to win series, but the Golden Knights are not the Wild. They have been one of the better teams all season long and have become a favorite to win the Stanley Cup.
The Canucks are still awaiting a return from Tyler Toffoli and Tyler Myers, who were once again out of the lineup in Game 1. The Canucks will be looking to bounce back as they have done in the past. Head coach Travis Green will have to find a way to motivate the team in this second-round matchup. Game 2 will take place on Tuesday at 6:45 P.M. PDT.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.