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

AlleyCats Okanagan: Pet of the week

Mort is available through AlleyCats Alliance

Okanagan College expands ‘Wellness Wednesdays’ to all students this fall

Wellness Wednesday workshops are designed to be psycho-educational

Kelowna haunted house to transition to parade-style format amid COVID-19

The Grenfell Road Haunted Parade will take place on Oct. 30 and 31 in Kelowna

Reported Kelowna Hells Angels member dies in Fraser Valley motorcycle crash

Michael “Speedy” Christiansen was found dead on Monday morning near Ruby Creek on Highway 7

Search continues for wheelchair, camera, stolen near West Kelowna

Police say the man relies on the wheelchair, as he is mobility challenged

B.C. reports 96 new COVID-19 cases, one hospital outbreak

61 people in hospital as summer ends with election

Suspected human remains found in burned out vehicle on OKIB land

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP hand over investigation to Major Crimes

Kamloops RCMP search for armed robber of pizza restaurant

The incident unfolded on Monday evening at the Sahali Domino’s store

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

BC Liberals must change gears from election cynicism, focus on the issues: UBC professors

COVID-19 response and recovery is likely to dominate platforms

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Trial underway for Kamloops man charged with kidnapping

Michael Mathieson is charged with armed robbery, unlawful confinement and kidnapping

Dyer: Financing energy efficiency

Kristy Dyer has a background in art and physics and consulted for Silicon Valley

B.C. could be without a new leader for multiple weeks after Election Day: officials

More than 20K mail-in voting packages were requested within a day of B.C. election being called

Most Read