The Vegas Golden Knights won’t spend much time lamenting a missed opportunity to close out their Western Conference Second Round series against the Vancouver Canucks after losing 2-1 in Game 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday.
“Even without traffic we had some point-blank shots and we’ve got guys who can stick those in the net and we just didn’t tonight,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. “So you can’t overreact. There’s not many quarterfinal series like this, or conference semifinal series that end in five games. It just doesn’t happen. You’ve got two good teams going at it, and we’ve got a chance to win this in six and we’ll come back and regroup and get ready for that.”
The Golden Knights acknowledged that Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, making his first start in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, was impressive in making 42 saves.
Demko is the 15th goalie in NHL history, and second in two nights, to make his first NHL playoff start and win when his team was facing elimination. Michael Hutchinson did the same for the Colorado Avalanche in Game 5 against the Dallas Stars on Monday, making 31 saves in a 6-3 victory.
But the Golden Knights believe an increase in traffic in front of the Canucks net and more deflections are things they can do to make a difference in Game 6, however hot Demko may be.
“He was really good,” DeBoer said. “They were opportunistic, and we’ve got to make it a little more difficult on him, with a little more traffic, but we had some good looks. When you get down to the last eight teams, it’s never easy to close anybody out and they found a way to win a game between some good goaltending and some opportunistic goals. We’ve got to look at it and come back, and we’ll get another shot at it in Game 6.”
Video: Demko, Canucks defeat Vegas to stave off elimination
Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said even with a series-high 43 shots in Game 5 and having outshot Vancouver in each game, there are ways to further turn up the pressure.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of generating some opportunities,” Martinez said. “Regardless of the goaltender, I think every goalie, (if) he can’t see it, it’s pretty difficult to stop and part of that is generating traffic in front and having a net-front presence and having a shooting mentality. I think that at times tonight we did that, but obviously not well enough.
“You’ve got to generate traffic. Goalies in this league are too good. Not often are you going to beat a guy clean if he sees it. You’ve got to have that net-front presence and make it as difficult as possible on the goalie.”
Last season, the Golden Knights blew a 3-1 series lead and lost in seven games to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round.
It’s not part of the present conversation and they said Tuesday they are only looking at Game 6.
“We just have to take a look at some video,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “There were some mistakes that ended up in the back of our net and those can’t happen this time of year. We just kind of have to refocus and get ready for the next one.”
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