The Golden Knights stuck with Robin Lehner after a tough Game 2, and he rewarded them as Vegas won Game 3 against the Canucks. Thanks in part to two early strikes, Vegas took Game 3 3-0 to take a 2-1 series lead vs. the Canucks.
While the Golden Knights flexed their muscles at times in Game 3, the Canucks put up more of a fight than the 3-0 score would indicate. At least early on.
Golden Knights, Canucks trade stronger periods, but not goals, in Game 3 win for Vegas
On paper, the Canucks were the better team during the first period. Unfortunately for Vancouver, Vegas ended that opening frame up 2-0 on the scoreboard, though.
To start, Alex Tuch took advantage of another “alley-oop” pass to get behind the Canucks defense and score a key goal.
Less than 90 seconds later, Zach Whitecloud fattened the Golden Knights’ lead to 2-0.
[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Despite some serious chances for the Canucks — Bo Horvat has to be shaking his head after Game 3 — Robin Lehner maintained the Golden Knights’ 2-0 lead through the first 20 minutes. After that, the Golden Knights looked dominant, but no one scored in the second.
Heading into the third, Vancouver had a nice chance, with almost a minute-and-a-half of power play time. Instead of getting back into the game, they left themselves vulnerable to a dagger goal. (The Canucks also couldn’t capitalize on a 5-on-3 power play, so it was a tough special teams contest for Vancouver.)
Six Canucks briefly ended up on the ice during that power play, ending it early. Mark Stone beautifully placed a top-shelf goal during the abbreviated power play, giving Vegas a suffocating 3-0 goal:
🔝 SHELF PERFECTION 🔥
Mark Stone capitalizes on the power play for the @GoldenKnights. #VegasBorn | #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/CoedRNkd1n
— #StanleyCup Playoffs on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 30, 2020
Vancouver needs answers on Sunday
As much attention (and misconduct penalties) as Antoine Roussel garners, the Canucks haven’t really enjoyed much of an impact from supporting cast members. During most playoff runs, you need more than just your big stars to come through. Especially when an “x-factor” like Alex Tuch is chipping in almost as often as Mark Stone does for Vegas.
(Granted, Tuch wouldn’t be a mostly third-line winger if the Golden Knights weren’t so frighteningly deep.)
Naturally, it would also help Vancouver’s cause to solve Robin Lehner again. For the second time in three games, Lehner pitched a shutout, this time making 32 saves. Lehner also shut the Canucks out twice during the regular season, so he’s been a nuisance for Vancouver.
So far, the young Canucks have shown they can shrug off punches in ways people expect from more experienced teams. The Golden Knights are a heavyweight opponent that can test anyone (and disrupt most plans with their haymakers), so we’ll see if the Canucks can bounce back as Game 4 takes place on Sunday (10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN [livestream]).
No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 5 Vancouver Canucks (VGK leads 2-1)
Game 1: Golden Knights 5, Canucks 0. (recap)
Game 2: Canucks 5, Golden Knights 2. (recap)
Game 3: Golden Knights 3, Canucks 0.
Game 4: Sunday, Aug. 30, 10:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
Game 5: Tuesday, Sept. 1, 9:45 p.m. ET – NBCSN (livestream)
*Game 6: Thursday, Sept. 3 – TBD
*Game 7: Friday, Sept. 4 – TBD
MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.