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The Vancouver Canucks at Vegas, an Ugly History

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Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal against the Vancouver Canucks in February, 2018.

It’s not LA LA Land, that’s further west. It’s Vegas without the Las. A destination that could invite a bit a trouble, a fun kind of trouble, if one were to look. The Vancouver Canucks have not experienced much success since first making the trip here in 2017.

The Wow Factor

As a side note, the Vancouver Canucks first ever game against the expansion Vegas Golden Knights took place at Rogers Arena on November 16th, 2017. The road team won 5-2 after Vegas scored three unanswered goals in the third period. One of the goal scorers, Jonathan Marchessault, scored this past Sunday in the team’s most recent visit and victory over the Canucks.

It would be more than three months after that loss before Vancouver made its first trip into “The Fortress”, on February 23rd, 2018. It didn’t go well. The hosts were anything but hospitable in winning 6-3 and running their record to 41-16-and-4, at the time the best in the NHL. Canucks starting goalie Anders Nilsson got yanked after two periods and took the loss before Jacob Markstrom finished up.

The expansion Golden Knights were truly a phenomenon as they finished up a seven-game homestand 5-and-2.

About a month later the Canucks visited T-Mobile Arena again on March 20th, fell behind 4-0 and lost 4-1. Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury took a Brandon Sutter shot off the mask in the first period and left the game after 20-minutes. He earned the victory despite the fact Malcolm Subban finished up most of the match.

Vancouver fell behind 2-0 in the first five minutes and failed in an attempt to play come-from-behind hockey, despite out-shooting, out-drawing, and dramatically out-hitting the Golden Knights. They simply couldn’t finish.

It would appear most teams may have been a bit distracted by the bright lights and late nights that first season. Vegas’s home record finished 29-10-2.

The Canucks then lost an April home game to Vegas 5-4 in a shoot-out.

Encore Attempts

In Vancouver’s visits to ‘the strip’ in 2018-’19 things went just a smidge better. On October 24th they defeated the Golden Knights 3-2 in a shoot-out. Bo Horvat had two goals in regulation, Markus Granlund potted the only successful shoot-out attempt, and Markstrom made 33 saves for the win.

On March 3rd, 2019 the Canucks mustered 19 shots-on-goal as Fleury shut them out 3-0. The Golden Knights fired 48 shots-on-goal with all three tallies coming in the 2nd period. Ugly.

The first visit the following season, December 20th, 2019, didn’t go so well. 6-3 the final this time. Max Pacioretty was the hot hand, continuing a four-game goal scoring streak. The Canucks were chasing again, falling behind at the 2:22 mark of the 1st period on a Nick Holden goal. Vancouver briefly tied it and then got buried.

The Covid pandemic prevented another regular season trip to Vegas and the Canucks haven’t been back. Until now.

The seven-game playoff series in 2020 was played in the bubble in Edmonton and the Golden Knights prevailed over the Canucks 4-games-to-3.

In 2020-’21 the Canucks played every game in the all-Canadian Northern Division and never saw the Golden Knights.

The way things have gone, that may not be such a bad thing.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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