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Semi-finals game #5 Vancouver Canucks (2-3) @ Vegas Golden Knights (3-2) – game recap

The Canucks were playing for their season tonight for the first time. After dropping the last 2 games, the Canucks found themselves on the brink of elimination. Word came down early in the day that Thatcher Demko would be suiting up for his first career playoff start. Jacob Markstrom either had a minor injury or was dealing with general body soreness. In fact, Markstrom didn’t even dress tonight, meaning black ace Louis Domingue was on the bench as backup. Historically, the Canucks have come back three times from 3-1 deficits (1992 vs. the Jets, 1994 vs. the Flames and 2003 vs. the Blues). How much did the Canucks have left in the tank after three physically demanding rounds. Minnesota, St. Louis and Vegas have all been laying the body on the Canucks at every opportunity. Quinn Hughes is a point shy of the rookie record for points in the playoffs. His Calder trophy finalist counterpart Cale Makar tied the record last night. The rest of the lineup os the same as game 4. Could the Canucks stave off elimination? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game Highlights:

  • The Golden Knights opened the scoring just over 15 minutes into the 2nd period as Shea Theodore roofed a shot over Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko
  • Twenty-four seconds later, the Canucks tied the game as Brock Boeser tipped a shot past Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner
  • The Canucks took the lead just over 3 minutes into the 3rd period on a tip-in by Elias Pettersson
  • Thatcher Demko stopped 42 of 43 shots
  • Final score: Canucks 2 Golden Knights 1

My Take:

  • Thatcher Demko came in under tough circumstances (played just 8 minutes the last month). He was outstanding today, stopping 42/43 shots, several being high quality shots. The first 2 periods alone, he faced 28 shots and just one (a perfect shot over his glove) found the back of the net. He stopped 15 shots in the final period when the Golden Knights were pressing to send the game to overtime
  • Special teams was a bit of a non-factor with the Canucks managing just two shots on their three opportunities. On the other hand, the Canucks held the potent Vegas offense to just 4 shots in 4 opportunities
  • There is a stark contrast in how these teams defend. In general, the Golden Knights are far more aggressive in defending and are excellent in transition. The Canucks play a more conservative style, sitting back more and jumping on opportunities. I did notice that the Canucks were more aggressive than usual in the last five minutes of the game. However, the last 90 seconds of the game felt like a Vegas PP with the Canucks just hoping to block a shot. That may have been because the Golden Knights were pinning the Canucks in their zone, forcing the defending players to overstay their shifts
  • Brock Boeser really answered his critics with a goal and an assist. Prior to the game, TSN tried to stir the pot by tweeting out that it was highly unlikely the Canucks would be able to keep both Boeser and Tyler Toffoli. Several fans jumped to Boeser’s defense and said that kind of talk should occur in the off-season
  • Way too many turnovers by the Canucks (22) as they struggle to adjust to their toughest opponent yet.
  • The Canucks won 52% of the faceoffs, led by Jay Beagle, who won 78% of the draws he took (Beagle was kicked out of the faceoff circle on a key defensive zone draw late in the game. JT Miller came in and lost the ensuing draw, luckily Demko was able to freeze the puck shortly thereafter). Elias Pettersson (67% success rate), Brandon Sutter (50% success rate) and Adam Gaudette (50% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 38 hits, led by Bo Horvat, who banged out 5 hits tonight7
  • The Canucks blocked 22 shots, led by Alex Edler, who blocked 6 shots tonight
  • Up next, the Canucks try to force a game 7. Expect Thatcher Demko to start again, especially if there’s any doubt about Markstrom’s health. Also, expect more of the same from tonight’s game, a tight, physical affair.
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