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Semi-finals game #6 – Vegas Golden Knights (3-3) @ Vancouver Canucks (3-3) – game recap

After staving off elimination last game thanks to an outstanding goaltending performance by Thatcher Demko, who made 42 saves, several which looked like sure goals. He’ll likely need to repeat that performance twice more against a Vegas offence that it stellar in transition and has numerous players that are adept at scoring goals. History is on the Canucks side, having comeback three times in franchise history from 3-1 series deficits. The Canucks focus must be narrow – shift to shift the rest of the way. It’s imperative that the Canucks find a way to produce more offensively, because 17 shots probably won’t cut it. How much do the Canucks have left in the tank after three series where they have been beat up physically by the opposition? Could the Canucks stave off elimination for the second time and force a game 7 tomorrow night? Here is tonight’s game recap.

Game highlights:

  • The Canucks opened the scoring just under three minutes into the game on a wraparound by Jake Virtanen
  • The Canucks added a goal just over a minute into the 3rd period on a wrister off the post and in by JT Miller
  • Just over 7 minutes later, Quinn Hughes unleashed a howitzer past the glove of Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner
  • Just over 7 minutes after that, Bo Horvat iced the game with an empty-netter
  • Thatcher Demko stopped all 48 shots he faced for his 1st career playoff shutout

My take:

  • Let’s start with the unbelievable performance of Thatcher Demko. Here’s a rookie goalie who started game 5 having played 8:26 since the playoffs started and that came as mop-up duty in game 1 of this series. He was facing a Vegas team that had pretty much dominated the Canucks in virtually every facet of the game, including 2 shutout wins, and needing just one more win to advance to the next round. So what does Demko do? He pretty much single-handedly wins game five with a HUGE 42 save performance on a night when Vegas threw everything they had at the Canucks. He follows that game up with an even bigger 48 save shutout. The only question is whether Demko has enough left in the tank to do it again with no day of rest between games. As great as Demko has been, the Canucks have to do a better job in their own end. They can’t keep letting the opposition play like the Canucks zone is a shooting gallery. It’s already led to an injury to starting goalie Jacob Markstrom.
  • The Canucks played more aggressively tonight in their own end, which was good to see.
  • The one downside tonight was Jake Virtanen was drilled into the boards by Brayden McNabb. Although, he did do a post-game interview and said he was just winded, so he should be good for tomorrow
  • JT Miller probably had his best game in this series, if not the entire postseason. He had a goal and an assists, was +2, had 2 hits, blocked a shot and forced 3 turnovers
  • Virtanen was also huge tonight with the game-winning goal, 2 shots on goal, 3 hits and a forced turnover.
  • The Canucks won 60% of the draws, led by Brandon Sutter and Miller, who both had 67% success rates. Bo Horvat (63% success rate) and Jay Beagle (61% success rate) also had good nights in the faceoff circle
  • The Canucks banged out 26 hits, led by Virtanen and Tanner Pearson, who both had 3 hits tonight
  • The Canucks had 21 blocked shots tonight, led by Chris Tanev and Alex Edler, who both blocked 5 shots tonight
  • Up next, the Canucks try to complete the comeback in a winner-take-all game tomorrow night (or tonight if it’s Friday where you are). The Canucks looked dead in the water after game 4, but they found new life thanks to the epic performance of Thatcher Demko. Canucks have all the momentum and Vegas has all the pressure. I expect the Canucks to play like they have been since this tournament began and Vegas won’t go down easy either. It should be a fantastic finish to the series.
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