After showing solidarity with the Vancouver Canucks in a stance against racism the Vegas Golden Knights had no trouble turning up the intensity when the teams returned to the ice Saturday night.
The Knights led 2-0 after the first period and shutout Vancouver 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series.
It will be a quick turnout as the teams play Game 4 of the best-of-seven series Sunday night at Rogers Place in Edmonton (10:30 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca, CBC Sports app).
Goaltender Robin Lehner stopped 31 shots for his second shutout in three games against the Canucks. The win was a big counterpunch after Vegas was battered 5-2 in Game 2.
“We weren’t happy with Game 2,” said defenceman Alex Martinez, who had an assist. “There are going to be ebbs and flows. Not everything is going to go your way.
“If you have those downs you take a look at the video and try and correct the errors you made. It’s always about the next game. I thought we did a good job of coming back and re-establishing our game.”
Game pushed back by postponement
The Canucks and Knights were originally scheduled to play Thursday, but the game was among those postponed as a response by the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and the wider issues surrounding systemic racism, social justice and police brutality.
During a news conference Thursday, the Knights’ Ryan Reaves, who is Black, talked about how members of the Canucks had reached out to him and how important it was for mostly white hockey players to speak out against racism.
There were some questions leading into Saturday if the commonality the players had shown off the ice would dampen any animosity that had flared during the first two games.
The embers of dislike were quickly rekindled.
“I knew our team was going to come out and play really hard from the drop of the puck,” said forward Alex Tuch, who scored his seventh goal of the playoffs. “We were ready two days ago and we were ready today.
“With everything that happened I think it brought our team together. Being able to come together in such interesting times was huge for our team. We wanted to continue that in the hockey part too.”
The Canucks best period was the first. They outshot the Knights 16-9 and controlled much of the play. Vancouver still trailed by two goals at 5:28 after Tuch and Zach Whitecloud scored goals 1:23 apart.
Vancouver had a chance to climb back into the game midway through the period when given a two-man advantage for 1:18. Lehner made some big saves, including stopping Bo Horvat from the slot, and the Vegas penalty killers stood firm.
WATCH | Lehner, Tuch guide Vegas past Vancouver in Game 3:
“I thought we were unlucky to be down 2-0,” said Canucks coach Travis Green. “I really liked our first period. We skated well, drew some penalties. I think we easily could have been up after the first period. That’s part of playoff hockey. Sometimes you have a good period and you don’t win it.”
Vancouver’s power play was 0-5 Saturday and is 1-11 after three games.
The Canucks had another chance with the man-advantage heading into the third period but that was erased by a call for too many men after a bad line change. Mark Stone scored on the power play.
“That one stung,” said Canucks forward J.T. Miller. “We could have got one back or got some good momentum.
“We have to execute better.”
Green said the Canucks need to be better playing from behind.
“Our team sometimes, when we get down, we tend to overpass the puck a little,” he said.
The Canucks received a lot of production from the team’s supporting players in the six-game win over the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the opening round.
So far this series none of the bottom six forwards have recorded a point.
One advantage of playing in the bubble is the Canucks simply returned to their hotel to wait for Sunday’s game.
“Our guys are excited to play tomorrow,” Green told a short post-game news conference. “We had a lot of energy in our game tonight. We’ll be fine. We’ll be ready to go tomorrow.
“Life in the bubble isn’t bad. I hope we are here for quite a while yet.”