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game recap

Canucks blank Golden Knights in Game 6 of West Second Round, even series

Demko makes 48 saves in shutout to force deciding game

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Demko's 48-save shutout

VGK@VAN, Gm6: Demko shuts out Vegas with 48 saves

R2, Gm6: Thatcher Demko stopped all 48 shots that he faced to shut out the Golden Knights and lead the Canucks to a 4-0 win, forcing a Game 7

  • 03:40 •

Thatcher Demko made 48 saves, and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-0 in Game 6 to even the Western Conference Second Round series at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Thursday.

It was Demko's first NHL shutout.

"My job's the same regardless of the score," Demko said. "I just try to keep pucks out of the net. It doesn't matter if it's 1-0, we're down 1-0 or up by three. I'm just trying to make the saves I have to make to make sure they can find a way to win."

Quinn Hughes and J.T. Miller each had a goal and an assist for Vancouver, the No. 5 seed in the West.

"We got a belief in the room and lot of guys in here thought we had a good chance to win," Hughes said. "Sometimes guys are missing families in the bubble, but what I can say is after we win games, there's no better feeling. I think we're really coming together here."

 

[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Canucks Game 6 highlights]

 

The Canucks avoided elimination with a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Tuesday. Teams that win Games 5 and 6 after trailing a series 3-1 are 29-28 (50.8 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

Game 7 is in Edmonton, the West hub city, on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"I feel good, ready to go," Demko said. "It's a big Game 7. This is a game you want to play in, and as a kid you watch Game 7s, and you're envisioning yourself in those games, so I'm just really excited for tomorrow, and I know our group will be ready."

Robin Lehner made 19 saves for the Golden Knights, the No. 1 seed.

"There's no place for frustration right now," Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. "We've got to win one game to move on. We'll reset, come out tomorrow, and we've put ourselves in a position here where we win a game, we get to move forward, and that's what we've got to concentrate on."

Demko, who made 42 saves in his first NHL postseason start in Game 5, is the first rookie goalie with a shutout in the playoffs for the Canucks. The 24-year-old made 17 saves in the second period and 22 in the third. He has made 66 consecutive saves since allowing a goal to Shea Theodore at 15:12 of the second period in Game 5.

"Thatcher's been our MVP [in Games 5 and 6]," Vancouver forward Jake Virtanen said. "He's standing on his head back there and making some amazing saves, keeping us in games. You can see the confidence he has back there. He's just calm and collected and playing his game."

Video: Demko earns Bridgestone Clutch Performance

Virtanen scored on a wraparound at the left post to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead 2:50 into the game. Tyler Motte chipped the puck into the Vegas zone, got to it behind the net, and left it for Virtanen, who scored his first point of the series.

Miller scored from the right face-off circle to make it 2-0 at 1:03 of the third period.

"We talk a lot about defending the middle of the ice and we always try to funnel back to that area," Miller said. "That's probably the reason they have a lot of end-zone time. They have a lot of shots from the top and they're taking a lot of one-timers, but we do a good job of being in the middle of the ice, trying to limit the amount of Grade A's that we're giving up.

"We take a lot of pride in that area of the ice, especially on the penalty kill as well."

The Golden Knights went 0-for-7 on the power play the past two games, including 0-for-5 in Game 6.

"It's nice that we're going to have this opportunity tomorrow," Vegas forward Max Pacioretty said. "You don't want to sit around the room in the bubble and think about what went wrong to get to this point. But that being said, get some sleep, show up to the rink tomorrow energized for a Game 7. This is what you dream about, so we should be excited for the challenge."

Hughes gave the Canucks a 3-0 lead on a slap shot from the left circle at 8:16.

"This is my first year and some other guys haven't played in the playoffs, so for a lot of us, it's a really good experience for us to push Vegas to a Game 7," Hughes said. "We're not satisfied, but we're all really excited for [Game 7]."

Video: Demko, Canucks shut out Golden Knights in Game 6

Bo Horvat scored an empty-net goal at 15:22 to make it 4-0.

"We tend to overpass the puck a little bit; I thought early in the game we should have shot a few more pucks," Vancouver coach Travis Green said. "We did shoot some pucks in the third (seven shots on goal), and it's funny what that will do when you've got a good net presence and you get a puck through."

Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom was unfit to play for the second straight game. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.

NHL.com staff writer Tim Campbell and columnist Nick Cotsonika contributed to this report

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