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Photo Credit: © Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy Postgame: Lehner blanks Canucks for second time as Vegas takes 2-1 series lead

The Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights were back in action tonight for the first leg of back-to-back games. The Canucks lost 3-0 and will be looking to put this one behind them before getting back at it tomorrow night. But before we do that, let’s get into this one.

First Period

The Canucks got an early power play after Elias Pettersson avoided a charging Jonathan Marchessault which led to him drawing a tripping penalty. The power play got four shots off, but Robin Lehner was up to the challenge.

That’ll be a theme you see more than once in this one, by the way.

The Canucks were later given a 5 on 3 man advantage for well over a minute, but again, couldn’t solve Lehner, who, by the way, was really, really good in this one.

Jacob Markstrom allowed two goals on four shots, but neither of the goals were really his fault. That being said, given how great Markstrom has been, it wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for him to make those stops, either.

The Alex Tuch breakaway goal was one that could have been stopped had Jordie Benn and/or Jay Beagle noticed he was streaking hard waiting for a stretch pass. They didn’t, and Tuch — for lack of a better word — tucked it past Markstrom to open the scoring for Vegas.

The second goal was a case of Chris Tanev screening Markstrom on a perfect far side shot from Zach Whitecloud after the Canucks failed to get the puck up from their own end. Again, neither goal is on Markstrom, but if he bails the Canucks out by making the saves, nobody bats an eye. That’s how good he’s been.

The first period seemed like a lot of bad luck for the Canucks, and they were down 2-0 by the end of it. When you watched this game, you likely felt that if the Canucks played the same way as they did in the first but just got a little bit better puck luck, things would be okay.

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They did control over 60% of the shot share, after all.

But then they didn’t.

Second Period

The Canucks just didn’t come out flying in the second frame the same way they did in the first. They were sloppy in breaking out of their own end, and failed to capitalize on some promising looking offensive chances.

They failed to generate good looks the same way they did in the first, and they didn’t get nearly enough shots off on Lehner.

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Markstrom was great in the second while the rest of his team was not. He turned away all 11 of the Vegas Golden Knights’ high danger scoring chances in that period while his team generated a total of zero at the other end on Lehner.

This doesn’t seem good.

Is this good?

Miraculously, the Canucks didn’t allow a goal in the second, but they also didn’t score one. 2-0 Golden Knights. 

Third Period

Mark Stone pushed the Vegas lead to 3-0 two minutes into the third with a power play goal. The Canucks

You’ve seen the numbers. When the Canucks’ potent power play converts, they typically win. When the power play is stifled, they rarely win. It’s science.

This may seem like basic stuff, but when the Canucks failed to convert on three early power play chances in the first, you couldn’t help but feel that their chances of coming away with a victory took a major dip.

When Pettersson drew his eighth penalty of the postseason — yes you read that right — with eight minutes remaining in the third, it really seemed like the Canucks last chance at potentially making a comeback in this one.

Instead, they failed to get set up and spent more time in the neutral zone and their own end than they did in the Vegas end.

Obviously the Canucks will need their power play to capitalize on their chances in game four, but most of all, they’ll need to make Robin Lehner look more like he did in game one, rather than games one and two.

The Fancies

Closing Thoughts

Brock Boeser and Quinn hughes both didn’t look like themselves, and it showed. I thought Boeser looked good at the beginning of the contest, but got worse as the game progressed. Hughes was still one of the Canucks’ best defenceman, but they’re used to him playing at a higher level than the one he played at tonight.

J.T. Miller doesn’t look quite right. Iain MacIntyre suggested postgame that it could be a wrist or hand injury bugging Miller. Remember, he was a gametime decision for a game against St. Louis in the last series, and the Canucks haven’t really had much downtime since.

As per usual, both Miller and Hughes played a ton of minutes tonight, but couldn’t help propel their team to victory. Head coach Travis Green was asked about Hughes’ game and said that he’s “not worried at all” about his young star who’s navigating his way through another playoff series. Green also added that Hughes is a big part of the power play, which he felt got some really good looks.

I thought we played well in the first and could have been up,” said the Canucks’ bench boss. “Sometimes you play well but the puck won’t go in.”

The power play is this team’s greatest strength and they will need to be better if the Canucks want to have a chance to win. That, and some damn puck luck, which simply evaded them tonight.