In Tuesday night’s game, the Vancouver Canucks responded in a big way. After being run out of the building in game one by the Vegas Golden Knights, they rebounded to win game two 5-2.
It took just 89 seconds for Vancouver to get on the board. Tyler Toffoli, who drew back into the lineup after missing the last 10 games due to injury, scored on a feed from Elias Pettersson to make it 1-0. Toffoli and Pettersson would assist on the next goal as well, coming on a shot from Bo Horvat on the powerplay to make it 2-0. The Golden Knights never really got to their game during the first period, being outshot 8-4 and having no dangerous scoring chances.
When the Golden Knights came out of the tunnel to start the second period, something changed. They had much more jump in their step and began to take over the game. Alex Tuch scored just over six minutes into the period to cut the deficit to one. Vegas pressed hard to find the equalizer goal after Tuch’s goal with numerous high danger chances. Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom found himself facing a barrage of shots from the Golden Knights but managed to hold tight. Despite being outshot 22-7 in the period, and shot attempts being 50-11 in favor of the Golden Knights, the Canucks got the final word at the end of the period. With just over 90 seconds remaining in the period, Elias Pettersson scored after he found himself all alone in front of the net to make it 3-1 heading into the third period. Goals in the last few minutes of a period can break the spirit of the team that is trying to make a comeback, and that is what happened to Vegas. They played an excellent period but walked away down two goals.
The goal in the dying moments of the second period broke the back of the Golden Knights. 18 seconds into the third period, Bo Horvat scored his second goal of the game to eliminate any chance that Vegas might pull off some third period magic. The game got physical for the remainder of the period, showing the frustration Vegas felt. Late in the third period, Max Pacioretty scored on the powerplay to make it 4-2 and give the Golden Knights a glimmer of hope. However, they were unable to generate much pressure after that and after a Tanner Pearson empty-net goal, fell 5-2 to the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom stood on his head tonight, stopping 38 of the 40 shots he faced. Robin Lehner allowed four goals on 26 shots, although the team defense in front of him was less than stellar.
Tuesday night's showing from the defense left a lot to be desired and some major gaps that must be cleaned up before game three on Aug. 27. Defensive breakdowns lead to three of the goals scored by Vancouver in this game. While in game one Vegas managed to shut down Vancouver’s top two lines, they were unable to repeat that Tuesday night. Each member of Vancouver’s top six had at least one point in the game. The Canucks were led by both Tyler Toffoli and Elias Pettersson, who both had one goal and two assists on the night. Vegas will need to clean up these defensive lapses if they want to have a shot at winning game three. They have proven they can do it, but it will need to get done more consistently.