The Vancouver Canucks are up against it.
Their second-round clash with the Vegas Golden Knights has not been going well, with their opponents taking Game Four Sunday and jumping up to a 3-1 series lead.
The Golden Knights closed out the weekend with a pivotal 5-3 victory that came on the back of three goals in the third period. Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist.
The forward suffered an injury in training camp in July and missed the round robin portion along with a game in the Chicago series.
“It’s easy to come back and join this group,” said Pacioretty. “Everyone here is on the same page. You’re not really expected to come in here and be the hero, we have such great depth. (Coming back from injury) you’re not really relied upon to do too much out of your comfort zone, and that’s a nice feeling going into a lineup knowing your teammates are working for you to get back into the rhythm of things.”
It was the second game in two nights for the Canucks and Golden Knights.
Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom hung in as best he could, but everyone has limits. He faced 33 shots, continuing the post-season trend of facing a small mountain of pucks per game. Rebounds were an issue and the Canucks allowed too many good looks.
At the other end was Marc-Andre Fleury, taking the gig after Robin Lehner started Saturday. Vegas has an embarrassment of riches in goal and can switch things up as needed, notwithstanding any rousing tweets from a certain sports agent.
It was the third start of the post-season for Fleury and he was equal to the task, facing 31 Vancouver shots.
Vancouver has their work cut out for them. Vegas’ forecheck is unwavering and they roll four lines, pushing speed and physicality for 60 minutes. The Canucks succeed when they pushed back, which means they’ll have to match check-for-check and push the action beyond the goal line.
On Sunday, Vancouver out-hit Vegas, won more faceoffs, blocked more shots, and produced on the power play. But they still lost, which means more will be needed to stave off elimination Tuesday night.