Antoine Roussel tried to carry the puck through the Golden Knights’ neutral-zone blockade during the third period Sunday, but the Canucks forward didn’t make it out of his own zone before he was swarmed by Ryan Carpenter and turned over the puck.
Ryan Spooner was the next to give it a go for Vancouver and reached the helmet logo near center ice when he was met by right wing Mark Stone.
Josh Leivo and rookie sensation Elias Pettersson were halted at the Canucks’ blue line. Nikolay Goldobin at least crossed the red line before his errant pass.
For more than four minutes, the Canucks tried to penetrate the Knights’ zone and failed each time. When Tyler Motte finally got off a shot with 4:11 remaining, the announced crowd of 18,303 at T-Mobile Arena let out what can best be described as a pity cheer.
“I think our defensive game was outstanding. It was probably the best all year,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “We had a lot of jump today. We played real good hockey and we stayed with it and stayed consistent for 60 minutes of playing defense first and getting a lot of scoring opportunities because of it.”
The Knights manhandled Vancouver and did all their scoring in the second period on the way to a 3-0 victory.
Max Pacioretty netted his team-high 21st goal, while Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his league-leading eighth shutout and 32nd victory.
Ryan Carpenter and Reilly Smith also scored as the Knights won their fourth straight since the trade deadline and moved eight points ahead of idle Arizona for third place in the Pacific Division with 15 games remaining.
“Going through that little bit of down time, we kept saying that would make us better at the end of the year,” Pacioretty said. “Hopefully we can still say that, but that makes this great play as of late feel a little bit better and makes us realize we’re a good group and gives us confidence going forward.”
The Knights, who were playing their third game in four days, kept Vancouver to the perimeter and posted lopsided advantages in shot attempts (89-47) and shots on goal (48-19).
The Canucks went more than 14 minutes without a shot on goal in the third period, and the high danger chances during 5-on-5 play favored the Knights 23-4, according to the website NaturalStatTrick.
Fleury posted back-to-back shutouts for the second time this season (Nov. 23 and 24, 2018) and extended his scoreless streak over three games to a career-long 168:47 with 19 stops.
He notched his 436th career victory, one shy of tying Jacques Plante for eighth on the all-time list.
“The last game was busier and better scoring chances,” Fleury said. “I thought tonight our guys dominated from start to finish. We played very well, played with speed, we had the puck a lot. We controlled the play, you know, D zone, offensive zone.”
Jacob Markstrom finished with a season-high 45 saves for Vancouver, which lost for the sixth time in its past seven games (1-4-2).
Pacioretty opened the scoring at 5:42 of the second period when he was teed up for a one-timer by Nate Schmidt.
Carpenter pounced on a long rebound after Markstrom couldn’t control Shea Theodore’s wrist shot and knocked in his fifth goal and first since Jan. 12.
Smith buried his 13th goal with 1:06 remaining in the second after the Knights’ forecheck created a turnover and William Karlsson found Smith alone along the goal line.
“I think it’s getting better, but we still have another level,” Gallant said. “We want to get back to where we were, and I think its a big step in the right direction the last couple of days. Today was an excellent hockey game and we have to continue that.”
1. No shame. The Knights were not penalized against Vancouver, the first game this season they haven’t been sent to the penalty box. The only other game the Knights did not commit a penalty was against Philadelphia on Feb. 11, 2018.
2. Holding his own. Center William Karlsson had a tough task in the circle against Vancouver’s Bo Horvat, who leads the league in even-strength faceoffs won and is second in total faceoffs won. Karlsson finished 6-9 in the 15 faceoffs vs. Horvat and was 12-11 overall.
3. Shot chart. The Knights surpassed the 40-shot mark two times in 13 games from Jan. 6 to Feb. 9. They finished with 48 shots on goal against Vancouver, and have exceeded 40 shots six times in their past 10 outings, including three of the past four.