Vancouver Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko (35) makes a save on Vegas Golden Knights’ Paul Stastny (26) as Canucks’ Christopher Tanev (8) defends during third period NHL Western Conference Stanley Cup playoff action in Edmonton on Thursday, September 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

Demko perfect as Canucks blank Golden Knights 4-0; Vancouver ties series 3-3

Demko perfect as Canucks blank Golden Knights 4-0; Vancouver ties series 3-3

EDMONTON — Thatcher Demko stopped all 48 shots he faced for his first-ever post-season shutout to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night and force Game 7 in their NHL playoff series.

Jake Virtanen, J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Bo Horvat scored for Vancouver, which tied the best-of-seven series 3-3. Game 7 goes Friday night at Rogers Place.

Robin Lehner made 19 saves for Vegas and is now 7-4 in the 2020 post-season.

It was the second playoff start for Demko and the second consecutive game he turned back a barrage of shots to preserve a slim victory.

The 24-year-old, in his first full season in the NHL, turned aside 42 shots in a 2-1 win in Game 5.

Thursday was the first time the Golden Knights, the top Western Conference seed, have been shut out in the return to play tournament.

Virtanen opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game. He jumped on a loose puck behind the Vegas net and wrapped it around past Lehner.

The Canucks went up 2-0 just over a minute into the third period. Miller wheeled around in the right face-off circle and fired the puck far side past Lehner. It was his first goal of the series. He has six goals in the post-season. Hughes got the assist, his 14th of the playoffs.

Hughes then got his second goal of the post-season, firing a slapshot from the point past a screened Lehner. Miller got the assist, his 12th of the playoffs.

Horvat scored into an empty net for his playoff-leading 10th goal.

The Canucks have not been in the playoffs since 2015 and this will be their first Game 7 since losing to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final in 2011.

The Golden Knights were dispatched in seven games by the San Jose Sharks in the first round last spring.

Demko is playing in place of the regular starter Jacob Markstrom, who was deemed unfit to play. The NHL is not releasing injury details.

Markstrom, in his first NHL playoffs, has been a workhorse for Vancouver, starting 14 games in 29 days, posting an 8-6 record, stopping 451 shots (2.85 goals-against average, .919 save percentage) and recording his first post-season shutout by beating the Minnesota Wild 3-0.

Demko’s last start before the post-season was March 10, two days before the NHL’s regular season was halted, and later cancelled, due to COVID-19.

All Western Conference games are being played without spectators at Rogers Place. The final-four series and Stanley Cup final will also be played in Edmonton.

The players are isolating between games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

NHL

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