No. 5 Canucks vs. No. 1 Golden Knights
10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS
The Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time when they play Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.
The Golden Knights last reached the Western Conference Final during their inaugural season in 2018, and the Canucks have not gotten past the second round since 2011, when they lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in seven games.
Robin Lehner is expected to start in goal for the Golden Knights. It’ll be the third consecutive start for Lehner, who is 5-1-0 with a 2.44 goals-against average and .904 save percentage in six playoff games.
Lehner, acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 after the Chicago Blackhawks traded him to the Maple Leafs earlier that day, was 3-0-0 in three regular-season games for Vegas before the NHL paused the season March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Goalie Jacob Markstrom will start his 11th straight postseason game for the Canucks. He is 7-3 with a 2.44 GAA and .929 save percentage. He made 34 saves on 36 shots when the Canucks eliminated the St. Louis Blues with a 6-2 win in Game 6 of their first-round series Friday in Edmonton, the Western hub city..
Vegas, 7-1-0 in the postseason, defeated the Blackhawks in five games in their first-round series.
Teams that win Game 1 are 485-220 (68.7 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL playoff series, including a 7-1 record in the first round this season.
Here are 3 keys to Game 1:
1. Everyone’s contributing
Vegas has 16 players with at least one goal (12 forwards, four defensemen). Forwards Mark Stone (four goals, four assists) and Reilly Smith (three goals, five assists) lead Vegas with eight points each. Defenseman Shea Theodore (four goals, three assists) and forward Jonathan Marchessault (two goals, five assists) have each scored seven points, and forward Alex Tuch has scored four goals.
Vancouver has 13 players with at least one goal (10 forwards, three defensemen). Center Elias Pettersson leads the Canucks with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) and is tied for second in the NHL with Dallas Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen behind Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (16 points; six goals, 10 assists). Forward J.T. Miller (five goals, five assists) and defenseman Quinn Hughes (one goal, nine assists) each have 10 points. Captain Bo Horvat has scored six goals.
2. Masterful Markstrom
Markstrom, who is tied with New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov for the NHL lead with seven playoff wins, has a .943 save percentage at even strength and at least 30 saves in each of his past five games. Kirk McLean, who had six straight games of 30-plus saves during the 1994 Stanley Cup Playoffs, is the only Canucks goalie with a longer stretch of consecutive playoff games with 30 or more saves.
“All year he’s backed us up with incredible saves and he got better and better as the year went on,” Canucks forward Antoine Roussel said. “He’ll back us up at any cost, is an incredible player and an all-star.”
3. Staying out of the box
The Golden Knights have taken the fewest penalties (24) of the eight remaining playoff teams. They are 19-for-22 and rank third in penalty killing of those eight teams (86.4 percent). They were 11-for-12 (91.7 percent) against the Blackhawks in the first round.
The Canucks are second on the power play among the eight teams (26.2 percent), 11-for-42 so far. They were 6-for-21 (28.6 percent) against the Blues.
“Our team has done an exceptional job figuring out what’s going to be called, and adhering to that,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “Vancouver draws a lot of penalties and they want to get on the power play. We need to stay disciplined.”
Canucks projected lineup
J.T. Miller — Elias Pettersson — Jake Virtanen
Tanner Pearson — Bo Horvat — Brock Boeser
Antoine Roussel — Adam Gaudette — Brandon Sutter
Tyler Motte — Jay Beagle — Loui Eriksson
Alexander Edler — Troy Stecher
Quinn Hughes — Christopher Tanev
Oscar Fantenberg — Jordie Benn
Scratched: Olli Juolevi, Justin Bailey, Jalen Chatfield, Louis Domingue, Tyler Graovac, Brogan Rafferty
Unfit to play: Micheal Ferland, Josh Leivo, Tyler Toffoli, Tyler Myers
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty — William Karlsson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — Paul Stastny — Reilly Smith
Nick Cousins — Nicolas Roy — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Unfit to play: Tomas Nosek