VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)Shea Theodore scored 2:05 into overtime, leading the Vegas Golden Knights to their fifth straight win with a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.
Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and assist, and Alex Pietrangelo also scored in regulation for Vegas. Robin Lehner returned from a lower-body injury to make 26 saves in his first start since March 8.
”Confidence is huge in this league,” Theodore said. ”I feel like sometimes everything you put on the net is going in and then there’s stretches where nothing is happening whatsoever, so it’s good to be in this stretch and hopefully we’ll continue it.”
J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat scored in the third period for the Canucks, who trailed 2-0 in the first. Thatcher Demko stopped 27 shots for Vancouver, which lost its third in a row.
”It’s like a broken record,” Miller said. ”We weren’t ready to play and lost in overtime. Obviously we played our butts off for the second and third, but it’s too late. It’s like I’ve said a million times – you can’t do that in the league, it’s too hard.”
The game marked the first half of a home-and-home series between the teams, with the rematch set for Wednesday in Las Vegas.
Vancouver entered Sunday’s game seven points behind Vegas in the Western Conference standings, with both teams still battling with the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators for the two wild-card spots.
Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers nearly scored with a close-range shot as the clock expired in the third period, but Lehner forced overtime by getting a piece of the puck with his glove.
”He looked really sharp,” Pete DeBoer said. ”We’re using the depth of our organization at almost every position, but particularly in net and Logan Thompson has come in and done a great job, but we needed Robin back. It’s been a long time and it was nice to see him come with an effort like that.”
Down 2-0 coming into the third, the Canucks rallied early to cut their deficit in half.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson dished a short pass to Miller at the top of the slot and the forward sent a rocket flying past Lehner to make it 2-1 at the 1:42 mark.
Vancouver appeared to lose an important piece late in the second period when right wing Brock Boeser got caught up in teammate Elias Pettersson’s hit on Ben Hutton near the penalty box. Boeser writhed in pain on the ice for a moment before getting up and skating off holding his wrist. He went directly to the locker room, but returned to start the third.
The Canucks were already a man down after Tucker Poolman didn’t join his teammates on the bench to start the second period. Sunday marked the defenseman’s return to the lineup after missing 26 games while dealing with migraines, but Poolman played just four minutes, 25 seconds, all in the first period. The team said he would not return due to an upper-body injury.
Vancouver had a prime opportunity to score the equalizer midway through the third after Marchessault was called for tripping Miller.
Brayden McNabb put the puck over the glass with just three seconds left on the penalty – with McNabb called called for delay of game and giving the Canucks a very brief five-on-three advantage.
Vancouver capitalized with an odd goal. Horvat lost the faceoff to William Karlsson but the puck popped out, hitting the stick of Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez and squeaking past Lehner for the equalizer at the 9:42 mark.
”Obviously it’s frustrating,” Horvat said. ”We need every point we can get at this point of the season. Our start let us down again.”
NOTES: F Jason Dickinson returned to the Canucks lineup after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. … The Golden Knights improved to 10-0-2 in regular-season play against the Canucks.
The home-and-home series shifts to Las Vegas, where the Canucks travel to take on the Golden Knights on Wednesday night.
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