David Becker / Assocaited Press
Published Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 11:42 a.m.
Updated Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 3:34 p.m.
The Golden Knights turned in one of their most dominant efforts of the season on Sunday, controlling the puck from start to finish in a 3-0 victory against the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena.
The ice was tilted toward the Vancouver net, as the Golden Knights led in shots on goal, 48-19, falling just short of the season-high of 53 set against the Senators on Oct. 28.
It took until the second period to score, but the Golden Knights poured it on. Max Pacioretty opened the scoring with his 21st of the season, followed by Ryan Carpenter's fifth and Reilly Smith's 13th.
The Golden Knights have won five in a row, and three in a row at home.
It was Marc-Andre Fleury's league-leading eighth shutout of the season.
Golden Knights score trio in second
The Golden Knights kept the puck in the Vancouver end most the second and got rewarded repeatedly, and took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission against the Canucks.
Nate Schmidt found a streaking Max Pacioretty, who blasted a one-timer by Jacob Markstrom to open the scoring at 5:42. Excluding Mark Stone's goals with Ottawa, that gives Pacioretty sole possession of the team lead with 21 goals on the year.
A few minutes later, it was Ryan Carpenter's turn. The fourth line created good pressure below the faceoff dots, and when a juicy rebound went off Markstrom's pads and to Carpenter, who pulled the stick blade in front between his skates and got off a fore-handed shot while falling down. It was his fifth of the season and first since Jan. 12, and gave the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead.
A strange bounce off the endboards allowed Jonathan Marchessault to shovel the puck to William Karlsson, who found a wide-open Reilly Smith to Markstrom's left. Smith lifted it over the Vancouver goalie to make it 3-0 at 18:54.
Vegas expanded its lead in shots on goal to 38-14.
Vegas looks good, doesn't score in first
The Golden Knights didn't look like a team playing its third game in four days, and though they didn't score, looked strong in a scoreless first period with the Vancouver Canucks.
Vegas controlled the action early on, with nine shots in the first six minutes of the game. The Golden Knights went to the power play at 9:09, and only a Max Pacioretty one-timer made it to the net.
The Golden Knights got a partial breakaway chance with just over four minutes left in the first after Alex Tuch picked Tanner Pearson's pocket at the Vegas blue line and went the other way. He couldn't get all the way clear of the defense, and dropped the shot off for Brandon Pirri, but it was saved.
It was the exclamation point on a great period for that line, which included a Cody Eakin takeaway in the neutral zone that led to a scoring chance.
Vegas led in shots on goal for the period, 16-6.
The Vancouver Canucks are seeing their odds of making the playoffs slip away by the day. They are 12 points back of the final Pacific Division postseason berth, and seven back of the Wild Card with four teams ahead of them.
That's what makes them dangerous, and why the Golden Knights, who have won three in a row, can't take it easy in their 1 p.m. matinee at T-Mobile Arena.
"This is a dangerous game for a team that's desperate," forward Max Pacioretty said. "They got nothing to lose and they do have some very good skill over there."
Among that skill is center Elias Pettersson, who appears to be a lock for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. He leads the Canucks in goals (26), assists (30) and points (56), and has teammates Bo Horvat (48 points) and Brock Boeser (43 points) to help pick up the slack as well.
Vancouver likes to keep them on different lines, making the lineup hazardous no matter which line is on the ice.
"Those are key guys on their team that you have to be aware of," defenseman Colin Miller said.
The Golden Knights are coming off their first shutout since New Year's Day, a 3-0 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. They are playing their best hockey since the beginning of the year, getting contributions from everyone on the team.
"We have four lines rolling and that's the way this team prides itself. We're not a one-line team," Pacioretty said. "The last three games we've shown that."
Emerson's Prediction: Golden Knights 3, Canucks 1
Season record for predictions: Keefer 5-5, Emerson 18-8
TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-300, Canucks plus-220; over/under: 6 (minus-110, minus-110)
Golden Knights (35-26-5) (19-10-4 home), third place, Pacific Division
Coach: Gerard Gallant (second season)
Points leader: Mark Stone (63)
Goals leader: Mark Stone (28)
Assists leader: Mark Stone (35)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.56 gaa, .910 save percentage)
Canucks (27-29-9) (13-17-5 road), fifth place, Pacific Division; sixth place, Wild Card
Coach: Travis Green (second season)
Points leader: Elias Pettersson (56)
Goals leaders: Elias Pettersson (26)
Assists leader: Elias Pettersson (30)
Expected goalie: Jacob Markstrom (2.71 gaa, .913 save percentage)
Golden Knights expected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Mark Stone, Brandon Pirri, Cody Eakin, Alex Tuch, Ryan Carpenter, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban