Thatcher Demko, who got his first playoff start after Jacob Markstrom was deemed unfit to play, stopped 42 out of 43 shots to give the Canucks to a 2-1 win over the Golden Knights.
Vegas dominated the first period of play, outshooting the Canucks 10-6. The best chance came from the Stastny line later in the first period. A shot from Reilly Smith snuck past Demko and a scramble for the puck ensued in front of the net. Vancouver swept the puck out of harm’s way and nothing came of it. Vancouver did not record a shot on goal through the first 10 minutes of play. A late slashing penalty taken by the Golden Knights gave Vancouver some life. They were unable to score on their powerplay, and the teams went into the first intermission scoreless.
The first 15 minutes of the second period stayed the same. The Golden Knights once again held the Canucks to no shots in the first ten minutes of play. It took over 15 minutes before the first goal of the game went in. Shea Theodore, with some nifty puck handling, dangled his way around three Canucks defenders to give Vegas a 1-0 lead. The lead was not meant to last though, as Brock Boesser scored his first goal of the series on a deflection that beat Robin Lehner 24 seconds later. The Golden Knights heavily outshot the Canucks once again but could not get anything else to go in the period. The score would hold, and the teams entered the intermission tied once again.
Someone in the Canucks locker room must have told the team this was an elimination game. Just over three minutes into the period, Elias Pettersson broke the stalemate on a deflection that beat Lehner. Vegas pressed in the period but were unable to solve the puzzle in net that was Thatcher Demko. With the net empty and time ticking down, Mark Stone took a tripping penalty, effectively ending the Golden Knights’ hopes at a late comeback. The 2-1 score held, and the Canucks staved off elimination. Thatcher Demko played incredible and was the only reason his team had a chance to win the game. Robin Lehner did not face a ton of shots in the game, but the two goals he let in he had no chance on.
Game 6 between these two teams will be held Sept. 3. Despite their dominance for most of the game, this was a game Vegas let slip away. Game 6 will be far more important. Game 7, if necessary, will be played the following day. Vegas will need to get better quality chances against the Canucks goaltender if they want to close this game out on Thursday.