The Vegas Golden Knights defeated and eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Canucks won Game 6 with a score of 4-0. Here is the recap of Game 7 between the Golden Knights and Canucks.
Vancouver: Jacob Markstrom, Olli Juolevi, Brogan Rafferty, Zack MacEwen, Jordie Benn, Micheal Ferland, Jalen Chatfield, Justin Bailey, Tyler Graovac, Loui Eriksson
Vegas: Nick Holden, Deryk Engelland, Peyton Krebs, Nick Cousins, Keegan Kolesar, Gage Quinney, Dylan Coghlan, Nicolas Hague, Oscar Dansk, Reid Duke, Patrick Brown
The Golden Knights got off to a hot start to start off Game 7 getting the first few shots on goal on Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko. Again, Demko stopped all of the Golden Knights shots during their offensive onslaught. However, the Golden Knights were able to establish their game earlier and faster than the Canucks during this period alone. Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner didn’t have to face as many shots as Demko early on but he did get tested from the Canucks’ first two shots of the game.
The game was tied at zero heading into the second period.
This period was the most interesting period during this series. Also, it was a trip down memory lane for the Golden Knights when forward Ryan Reaves got assessed a game misconduct match penalty that ejected him for the game. And, in another Game 7, the Golden Knights found themselves having to kill off another five minute penalty. Fortunately, the Golden Knights were able to kill off all five minutes not allowing one goal. Lehner also made a huge stop on Canucks forward Brock Boeser, which probably was the ultimate difference in this series. Demko also showed out and made a right pad save on Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt.
The game was still tied at zero heading into the third period.
This was it. The final period in regulation time in this series. Both teams had momentum swings go their way but it would be Golden Knights that would break the ice. Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore scored five seconds into their power play to finally get a lead since Game 5. However, the Canucks wouldn’t back down and made a push getting opportunistic scoring chances but couldn’t convert on them. But, the Golden Knights would seal the game with their second and third goals of the game both into an empty net. Golden Knights forwards Alex Tuch and Paul Stastny each scored to seal the game.
Vegas won the game 3-0 and the series 4-3.
Three Stars of the Game
Third Star: Reilly Smith (1 assist)
Second Star: Shea Theodore (1 goal)
First Star: Thatcher Demko (33 saves)
Vegas Golden Knights
When it all seemed like Vegas was going to blow another 3-1 lead, they persevered and bounced back from their two straight losses from Games 5 and 6. They got to their game early and looked committed to wanting to win this game. Vegas pushed the pace and made Vancouver work just to get into their offensive zone. Lehner also bounced back with his shutout performance stopping all 14 Vancouver shots. The goalie decision could’ve been controversial if Vegas didn’t win but Lehner played great despite only seeing 14 shots go towards his way.
The fact that Vegas only allowed 14 shots on goal during this game shows how much of a physical, skillful team they are on defense. Now if Reaves gets suspended from his hit to Vancouver forward Tyler Motte, Vegas would have to find ways to continue to build on their physicality in their next series like they did during the second period.
This was a grind out game for Vegas and they continue to show why they’re the number one team in the Western Conference going into the conference finals. Vegas heads back to the Western Conference Finals as the only team to reach it for the second time in their first three years in the league. Their next series against the Dallas Stars should be considered a big test for Vegas in order to get back to the Stanley Cup Final.
Vancouver is still a fairly young team and really hasn’t had much playoff experience coming into the bubble. With that said, they proved experts and people wrong of how they’ll fair out during this postseason. They beat the defending champions in the St. Louis Blues in six games and took Vegas to seven games after trailing 3-1 despite losing the series in the end.
The one thing Vancouver could improve on during their offseason is their defensive game. Yes, Vegas had turned over the puck too many times throughout this series. But, that’s only when Vancouver is playing their best games. And, they’ve done that for three games in this series otherwise they wouldn’t have forced Games 6 and 7. However, they need to start doing it on a consistent basis.
Also, their power play was great heading into this series against Vegas. However, it didn’t look good in this series because of how good Vegas is on the penalty kill. They found ways to beat the Blues on the power play during that series but the same couldn’t be said in this one. Especially when they had a five minute advantage during this game. Vancouver couldn’t get more than one shot on goal let alone into their own offensive zone.
The one positive Vancouver can take away from this series is their goaltending from Demko. Jacob Markstrom didn’t have a good outing when he was in net during this series despite winning one game. But, Demko was a force of nature and definitely got into the heads of Vegas’ players. He led this team to force those two games for sure along with other key players.
Vegas will play the Stars in the Western Conference Finals with Game 1 beginning on Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. EST.