Vegas Golden Knights’ Nick Cousins (21) and Vancouver Canucks’ Brock Boeser (6) get tangled up during second period NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff action in Edmonton, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Golden Knights crush Canucks 5-0 to take Game 1 of NHL playoff series

Lehner gets shutout as Vegas proves too much for Vancouver

The Vegas Golden Knights’ big guns were blazing and goaltender Robin Lehner recorded his first career playoff shutout to beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in NHL playoff action Sunday.

Lehner turned aside 26 shots as the Golden Knights grabbed a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch, Mark Stone, and Max Pacioretty did the scoring, chasing Vancouver starter Jacob Markstrom from the net.

Markstrom, making his 11th consecutive playoff start, stopped 29-of-34 shots and was pulled midway through the third period for Thatcher Demko after allowing the fifth goal.

The Canucks had just tiny handful of dangerous scoring chances. It’s the first time they have been shut out since losing 3-0 to the Minnesota Wild in the first game of their qualifying series.

Game 2 goes Tuesday at Rogers Place.

Lehner is 9-1 since being acquired at the trade deadline in a three-team deal including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks, and appears to have displaced Marc-Andre Fleury as the starter.

His win won’t do anything to cool down a goaltending controversy that flared up over the weekend when Fleury’s agent tweeted a doctored photo suggesting Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer is stabbing Fleury in the back.

The Golden Knights had not played since dispatching the Blackhawks Tuesday in the first round, but didn’t show any rust.

They pushed the Canucks hard on the forecheck, creating a lot of dangerous chances and leading to the first goal midway through the first period. Smith, circling behind the net fired the puck through the crease that bounced off a skate to Marchessault for him to tuck in behind Markstrom.

They scored three times in the second period to put the game away. Smith scored off a rebound on the power play. Then Stone, standing in the slot, redirected a wrist shot from Nate Schmidt to make it 3-0. Tuch then chased down an arching clearing pass from Nick Cousins, racing past the Canucks’ defence to shoot low gloveside and in.

In the third period, Stone, behind the net, passed in front to Pacioretty for the one-timer.

Smith, Stone, and Tuch each added an assist.

Smith and Stone lead the Golden Knights in playoff points with 10. Tuch has five goals and two assists. Marchessault has three goals and eight points.

The Golden Knights, the top Western Conference seed, are continuing the torrid play that saw them go 11-2 before the NHL shut down the regular season on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the return to play tournament, Vegas won all three round-robin seeding games and then dispatched the Blackhawks 4-1.

Lehner is getting the lion’s share of the work in the playoffs. Sunday was his seventh start compared with two for Fleury.

On Saturday, Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted a meme of Fleury on the ice in his Knights’ gear getting impaled through the torso from the back by a broadsword that bore DeBoer’s name.

Fleury addressed the controversy on a Zoom call with reporters before the game.

He said he is very tight with Walsh, and said he asked him to take the tweet down so it doesn’t become a distraction. Walsh did so earlier Sunday.

“He (Walsh) was just trying to protect me a bit,” said Fleury.

“We all want to win right? That’s why we’re here.

“I don’t want to be any distraction for my team.”

READ MORE: Canucks win 6-2, knock defending champion St. Louis Blues out of NHL playoffs

Fleury was asked twice if he knew ahead of time Walsh was going to post the picture.

He declined to answer both times.

Fleury won the Stanley Cup three times with Pittsburgh and backstopped Vegas to the Cup final in its inaugural season in 2018.

Vancouver advanced to the second round by beating the Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues, sending them home from the isolation bubble in Edmonton.

All conference games are being played at Rogers Place, with no fans in the stands and players isolating between contests to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

For more news from B.C. and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

CanuckshockeyNHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Lake Babine Nation to receive $200 million in benefits through landmark agreement

“It is a grand day today for Lake Babine Nation,” said Chief on signing agreement with Canada, B.C.

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Quirky Canadian comedy ‘Schitt’s Creek’ takes Emmys by storm with comedy sweep

Toronto-raised Daniel Levy and Ottawa-born Annie Murphy both got supporting actor nods

181 days gone: Family continues to look for man last seen in RCMP custody 6 months ago

Brandon Sakebow’s last known location was leaving Mission RCMP cell, police say; family has doubts

B.C. unveils new cannabis sales programs to help small, Indigenous growers

Government did not say how it will define small producers, but says nurseries will be included in the policy

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Most Read