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3 takeaways from Golden Knights’ Game 1 win over Canucks

Updated August 24, 2020 - 7:39 am

Robin Lehner had to compete with New York Islanders goaltender Thomas Greiss for playing time last season. He shared a crease with two-time Stanley Cup winner Corey Crawford at the beginning of this season.

So, no, Lehner wasn’t phased when Marc-Andre Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, took a not-so-subtle shot at Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer on Twitter over his client’s lack of playing time Saturday. Lehner said he and Fleury laughed about it.

Lehner is used to competing for his crease, and he doesn’t see this situation as anything he hasn’t seen before.

“I’m used to this stuff, I got to be honest,” Lehner said after the Knights defeated the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 Sunday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals in Edmonton, Alberta.

“It’s just part of the game. People have their fan favorites and all that stuff, but at the end of the day, we’re winning and I’m very blessed to be a part of this team and be teammates with Marc.”

Lehner didn’t seem affected by Walsh’s tweet before Game 1 of the Knights’ second-round series. The goaltender was rock-solid in his seventh postseason start Sunday.

Lehner stopped 26 shots to record his first career playoff shutout. He improved to 6-1 this postseason with a .918 save percentage and 2.09 goals-against average.

Those numbers mean he’ll likely get his fourth straight start Tuesday in Game 2. Lehner doesn’t expect that to lead to any awkwardness with Fleury. He said the two get along great. Fleury said in a video news conference Sunday morning that he has “a good friendship” with Lehner.

“At the end of the day, (Fleury) didn’t do anything,” Lehner said. “It was his agent, and if he wants to be unprofessional, go ahead. He looks terrible, but it’s what it is.”

DeBoer said Sunday he’s “100 percent confident” the tweet is a settled matter after talking to Fleury on Saturday.

“All that stuff is noise to us,” DeBoer said. “We’re not going to deal with it or spend any time on it. We’re here for one thing, and that’s to pursue a Stanley Cup. There’s not a doubt in my mind that every guy in that room is fully invested in that.”

Here are three more takeaways from the win:

1. That’ll leave a mark

Ryan Reaves and William Carrier made a strong first impression on the Canucks.

Reaves tallied a game-high 11 hits in 14:50, almost five minutes above his season average. Carrier finished second with nine hits in 14:40.

“He’s a factor,” DeBoer said of Reaves. “He is. And he does it without taking penalties, which is the great part about him and why he can play today’s game with that physical element. Because both him and Will, they’re two of the cleanest players on the ice and still two of the most physical guys on the ice. That’s what makes them so effective.”

Reaves also took it upon himself to antagonize Canucks forward Antoine Roussel. He could be heard on the TV broadcast clucking like a chicken at Roussel on the bench.

His antics eventually led to Roussel poking Reaves with his stick and then hugging him at center ice 2:03 into the third period. Roussel was given a 10-minute misconduct penalty.

“I don’t think (Roussel’s) really distracting anyone but himself,” right wing Reilly Smith said. “I don’t think he changed the game at all. If that’s the way he wants to play the remainder of this series, I think he just hurts his own team.”

2. Depth scoring strikes again

The Knights’ forward depth continues to stress opposing teams this postseason.

The third line had another strong night on the forecheck and provided a goal when right wing Alex Tuch scored with 3:26 left in the second period. Left wing Nick Cousins picked up a loose puck in the defensive zone and flipped it down the ice.

Tuch used his speed to outrace second-pair defenseman Chris Tanev to the puck, picked it up in the offensive zone and beat goaltender Jacob Markstrom with his forehand. Tuch said after the game he told Cousins to chip the puck to him.

“I saw the defenseman standing still, and it was the perfect flip, and I caught the defenseman flat-footed,” Tuch said. “I just tried to get past him, and it bounced perfectly in the middle.”

3. Missing stars

The Knights’ strong forecheck and physical play resulted in a tough night for Vancouver’s top players.

Center Elias Pettersson, defenseman Quinn Hughes and right wing Brock Boeser, three of the Canucks’ top six scorers this season, finished without a shot on goal. Leading scorer J.T. Miller had one shot, and captain Bo Horvat had two.

“I thought we played well defensively,” Knights left wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “We limited chances, and we were holding pucks in the O zone. We grinded them out.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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