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Golden Knights vs. Canucks - Game 5 Preview: Vegas looks to end series

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One win from the Western Conference Final for the second time.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Vegas Golden Knights at Vancouver Canucks
Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson scores a goal against the Vancouver Canucks goaltender Jacob Markstrom during the third period
Gerry Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

With the Game 4 win on Sunday, the Golden Knights showed why they’ve been so successful this season. They’re the first seed in the West and won the Pacific division in the regular season and in the postseason at least that’s been because of their third periods.

They had another great one on Sunday, scoring three goals and coming back from down 3-2 at the end of the second period to win it 5-3.

That’s not to say that Vegas looked great throughout that game. They simply didn’t. But they became the team they were for much of the regular season and throughout the postseason in that final frame against the Canucks.

They’ll need the team that played that third period to show up instead of the team that played the 40 minutes prior. They have a chance to put away the Canucks with a win in Game 5, and they’ll likely need a complete 60 minutes to do so.

Here are the three keys to tonight’s game.

Penalty kill

In Game 4, the penalty kill allowed two goals in the first two opportunities they gave the Canucks, and kept taking bad penalties. Chandler Stephenson took two penalties and Jonathan Marchessault took two, all in the offensive zone.

The Golden Knights allowed nearly as many shorthanded expected goals against in Game 4 as they did in 90 seconds more in Game 3. Like in Game 3, they didn’t allow a high-danger chance but they didn’t need to. They allowed too much time to Elias Pettersson on one goal and needed to be better about preventing a speedy entry by the Canucks on the other.

With the Golden Knights as undisciplined as they have been throughout this series, the penalty kill needs to be resilient and tight. In other words, they need to be better than they were in Game 4.

Last change

Neither of the last two games were played on home ice for Vegas, although Edmonton may be beginning to feel that way. They didn’t have last change and Vancouver was able to dictate matchups. That didn’t matter much, as the Golden Knights remained the better possession team, but there were some down games.

In Game 3, the third line had a 47.06 percent Corsi and the fourth line allowed more expected goals against than for to the tune of a 34.75 percent mark. While neither unit allowed a goal, Vancouver kept them on their heels.

In Game 4, the line of Reilly Smith, Paul Stastny and Jonathan Marchessault came away with a 31.25 percent Corsi. Both they and the fourth line had shot shares under 40 percent (36.36 percent for the Stastny line, 33.33 percent for the fourth).

Making sure the fourth line gets advantageous matchups and that if one of the top lines is having a bad game, that they go up against one of the lesser lines for the Canucks will be especially important.

High-danger defense

75 percent (six of eight) of Vancouver’s goals in this series have come from the high-danger area. That remained true in Game 4, as the one goal scored against Vegas at 5-on-5 came from the high-danger area. The Canucks’ sole win in this series came with all of their goals at high-danger as well.

Making sure that area is covered and taken away from the Canucks in this game will be vital. Vegas can’t continue their slip ups they’ve seen in the past. That will help out the goaltender as well, no matter who’s in net.

Projected lineups

Vegas

Max PaciorettyWilliam KarlssonMark Stone
Marchessault — Stastny — Smith
Nick CousinsNicolas RoyAlex Tuch
William CarrierChandler StephensonRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt
Alec MartinezShea Theodore
Nick HoldenZach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner
Marc-Andre Fleury

Vancouver

Tanner Pearson — Pettersson — Tyler Toffoli
J.T. MillerBo HorvatJake Virtanen
Antoine RousselAdam GaudetteBrock Boeser
Brandon SutterJay BeagleTyler Motte

Alexander EdlerTroy Stecher
Christopher TanevQuinn Hughes
Oscar FantenbergJordie Benn

Jacob Markstrom
Thatcher Demko


How to watch

Time: 6:45 p.m.

TV: NBCSN

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM