EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series Saturday night.
Alex Tuch, got his seventh goal of the postseason, and Mark Stone and Zack Whitecloud also scored to help Vegas take 2-1 series lead.
Lehner got his second career playoff shutout — and the second of the series. He blanked Vancouver 5-0 in the series opener and improved to 7-2 in the return-to-play tournament.
Jacob Markstrom finished with 31 saves for Vancouver.
Game 4 is Sunday night.
Lehner, acquired at the trade deadline from Chicago in a three-team deal that also included Toronto, was the difference early.
Vancouver came out flying in the first period, outshooting Vegas 16-10 and enjoying a 78-second 5-on-3 power play. Lehner turned aside a wealth of high-quality scoring chances: point-blank one-timers, blasts off the transition, redirects, and loose pucks bouncing through the blue paint.
Tuch scored first at 4:05 of the first period. Racing in full flight through the neutral zone, he split the defense, settled down a bouncing stretch pass from Nicolas Roy and delivered a hard shot past Markstrom into the top corner.
Just 83 seconds later, it was 2-0 when Whitecloud pounced on a loose puck at the right faceoff circle, fired it through traffic and in.
Early in the third, Stone roofed a fluttering puck from the faceoff circle on the power play for a 3-0 advantage. It was his second goal of the series and sixth of the playoffs.
The teams had not played since Tuesday. The NHL did not play its scheduled games Thursday or Friday after players in the Edmonton and Toronto playoff sites made it clear they wanted to make a statement to highlight the issues of social injustice, systemic racism and police brutality.
For Vancouver, the concern Sunday will be Markstrom and puck fatigue. The 30-year-old Swede is expected to start his 14th game in 29 days and his third back-to-back contest. He has been the backbone of the Canucks’ playoff success but has regularly been facing more than 30 shots a night in the post-season.
His backup is Thatcher Demko. Demko has started just 34 games over his first three seasons and has not played in the playoffs except for some mop-up time in the third period in the 5-0 loss.
Vegas has experienced veteran Marc-Andre Fleury in reserve. Fleury has spelled Lehner once in the round-robin series and again for one game in the first round against the Chicago Blackhawks. Vegas coach Peter DeBoer has said the plan is to play both.
FIRST PERIOD: Robin Lehner to start in net for Knights.
Alex Tuch (7) scores 4:05 into period. Assists to Nic Roy (5) and Alec Martinez (5). Knights 1, Canucks 0
Rookie defenseman Zack Whitecloud (2) scores his second goal of the playoffs, unassisted at 5:27. Knights 2, Canucks 0.
END OF PERIOD 1: KNIGHTS 2, CANUCKS 0. CANUCKS 16 shots on goal, KNIGHTS 10.
END OF PERIOD 2: KNIGHTS 2 CANUCKS 0. KNIGHTS 24 shots on goal, Canucks 23.
PERIOD THREE: Mark Stone (6) scores 2:19 into period. Assists from Shea Theodore (8) and Reilly Smith (7). KNIGHTS 3, CANUCKS 0.
KNIGHTS WIN 3-0 over Vancouver Cauucks. Knights 34 shots on goal, Canucks 31.
Vegas Golden Knights (39-24-8, first in the Pacific Division during the regular season) vs. Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6, third in the Pacific Division during the regular season)
Edmonton, Alberta; Saturday, 6:45 p.m. PDT
WESTERN CONFERENCE SECOND ROUND: Series tied 1-1
BOTTOM LINE: The Vegas Golden Knights take on the Vancouver Canucks for game three of the Western Conference second round with the series tied 1-1. The teams meet Saturday for the fifth time this season. The Canucks won the previous matchup 5-2. Bo Horvat scored a team-high two goals for the Canucks in the victory.
The Canucks are 11-8-1 against division opponents. Vancouver has scored 224 goals and is eighth in the league averaging 3.2 per game. J.T. Miller leads the team with 27.
The Golden Knights are 15-6-2 against opponents from the Pacific Division. Vegas leads the league recording 34.5 shots per game while averaging 3.2 goals.
TOP PERFORMERS: Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks with a plus-16 in 68 games this season. Horvat has seven goals and one assist over the last 10 games for Vancouver.
Max Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights with 66 points, scoring 32 goals and registering 34 assists. Alex Tuch has six goals and two assists over the last 10 games for Vegas.
DURING THE PLAYOFFS: Canucks: Averaging 3.2 goals, 5.0 assists, 5.6 penalties and 13.9 penalty minutes while giving up 2.8 goals per game with a .923 save percentage.
Golden Knights: Averaging 3.7 goals, 6.2 assists, 3.1 penalties and 6.2 penalty minutes while giving up 2.6 goals per game with a .898 save percentage.
INJURIES: Canucks: Micheal Ferland: out (undisclosed), Tyler Myers: out (shoulder).
Golden Knights: None listed.