Max Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights rallied for three goals in the third period and beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 on Sunday night.
The Golden Knights took a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series. With a win in Game 5 on Tuesday, Vegas can eliminate Vancouver, the last Canadian team from the post-season.
The 31-year-old Pacioretty suffered a minor injury as players returned to training camp in July for the return to play tournament. He didn’t play in the round-robin portion and also missed one game in the first round against Chicago.
“It’s easy to come back and join this group,” Pacioretty said. “Everyone here is on the same page. You’re not really expected to come in here and be the hero, we have such great depth.
“(Coming back from injury) you’re not really relied upon to do too much out of your comfort zone, and that’s a nice feeling going into a lineup knowing your teammates are working for you to get back into the rhythm of things.”
William Karlsson, Nate Schmidt, and Chandler Stephenson also scored for Vegas. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves and earned his third win of the playoffs.
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Shea Theodore added two assists, giving him four goals and 10 assists in the playoffs.
Bo Horvat, Elias Pettersson, and Tyler Toffoli scored for Vancouver. Jacob Markstrom, in his 14th start, made 28 saves in the loss.
It was a game that saw two lead changes after there had been no lead changes in the first three games of the series.
The Golden Knights led 2-1 after the first period, but trailed 3-2 after the second.
Vegas pressed Canucks
Vegas pressed the Canucks early in the third and tied it when Schmidt cranked a slap shot from the blue line past Markstrom at 2:52.
Pacioretty then scored the winner at 7:02 on a give-and-go with Schmidt, with the return pass going off his skate blade at the doorstep and behind Markstrom.
Pacioretty then set up the insurance goal 87 seconds later, feeding Karlsson from behind the net for the 5-3 lead.
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“It was a strange game,” said Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer. He said the Golden Knights started out well but got away from their game when they got into penalty trouble in the second period.
“We talked at the end of the second about just getting back to our game, staying out of the (penalty) box and getting more direct and stopping at the net,” said DeBoer.
“When we play that way we can put a lot of pressure on teams.”
The veteran winger has four goals in the series and five in the last five games.
It was Fleury’s third start of the post-season, replacing Robin Lehner. The change was expected as Lehner played 24 hours earlier, and head coach Peter DeBoer had said the plan is to play both goaltenders in the playoffs.
Lehner, acquired at the trade deadline, has been getting the bulk of the work in the post-season and is 7-2.
Fleury had been the starter until Lehner’s arrival and that has not sat well with Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh. When the Vancouver series began, Walsh tweeted a meme of his client, in full uniform on the ice, taking a broadsword in the back. On the blade was written the name DeBoer.
For Vancouver, Toffoli has two goals and four points in the last three games since returning to the Canucks’ lineup after missing an extended period due to a suspected foot injury.
Pettersson has six goals and 17 points in the post-season. J.T. Miller recorded three assists, giving him five goals and nine assists in the return-to-play tournament.
Horvat has nine goals.