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The Vancouver Canucks were on the ropes as the Vegas Golden Knights looked to close out the series in game five.

There was one man who was not going to let that happen in game five. That man broke the Canucks Twitterverse when news came down that Jacob Markstrom was unfit to play.

The big news of the day was tweeted by CanucksPR MrBooth7 as Markstrom was be deemed unfit to play and with that Thatcher Demko got his first career playoff start. Demko’s last start was a 45 save win against the New York Islanders on March 10th.

Demko followed that up with a 43 save performance on Tuesday night as he was the MVP of the game just as Canucks goaltenders have been all throughout the season. This was a heroic performance from Demko in this close 2-1 win for the Canucks.

The Canucks went with the same lineup from game four as there was no sign of Zack MacEwen as some fans hoped there may be. This group needed to be better at capitalizing on their chances if they didn’t want their playoff run to end.

Lines

It was do or die time for the Canucks.

Let’s go!

First Period

The Knights came out and controlled a lot of the pace early on. They were testing Demko quite a bit when the period began. Demko looked good in the first 20 minutes and his confidence bled into the Canucks overall play.

The Canucks brought some pressure late in the period and as you can see from this NaturalStatTrick chart, it was a very back and forth period.

The first period looked good for the trio of Adam Gaudette, Brandon Sutter and Antoine Roussel. They were skating well, getting in quick on the forecheck and got physical at times.

I thought Gaudette was really engaged in the period. He was aggressive in the offensive zone and that resulted in two shot attempts and one scoring chance for Gaudette in only 3:18 of 5-on-5 ice time.

The Canucks got their first powerplay late in the period but were unable to find the scoreboard. That was the only powerplay of the period and we went to the first intermission in a 0-0 tie.

Kevin Bieksa continued to dig deeper into Canucks fans’ hearts as he rocked a stellar Heritage Classic jacket during the intermission.

Second Period

The second period began just the way the Knights wanted it to. They controlled the puck in the Canucks zone for what felt like an eternity in the opening five minutes. Demko was on his toes early on and looked athletic in the crease as he dealt with a barrage of shot attempts from the Knights.

The Knights went to the powerplay when Gaudette took a slashing penalty. The Canucks penalty kill looked pretty good, they limited the chances and almost looked better than they did at 5-on-5.

Demko made a big save on a deflection late in the powerplay.

Travis Green mixed up his lines halfway through the period as the Canucks were unable to get a shot on goal in the first 12:28 of the second period.

The Lotto Line got some shifts together, the defence core saw some changes as well — Tyler Myers and Quinn Hughes saw time together and that meant the old faithful pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were back together.

The Knights lit the red light first as Shea Theodore danced his way through the tired Canucks group and roofed it over Demko to make it 1-0 Knights.

Theodore has really burst onto the scene in these playoffs and will likely have more eyes on him next season.

The Knights may have struck first but the Canucks struck right back. It took only 27 seconds for the game to be back in a deadlock tie.

Quinn Hughes sent a pass up to Boeser who had a terrific give and go with JT Miller. This was the second shift of the game for The Lotto Line and though Pettersson was not included in the play — his presence on the ice does things to the Knights defence. They are aware of Pettersson at all times and that opened up just enough of a sliver for Boeser to drive the lane and receive a great pass from Miller. 1-1 after the Canucks goal.

The Canucks needed that goal to light a fire under them.

The shots in the second period were 18-4 for the Knights, the attempted shot count was 31-8. The Knights are excellent at dominating the second period with the long change.

The problem was the Canucks cleared the puck out to the red line every time they possessed the puck. That made it easy for the Knights to get the puck right back into the offensive zone and it was almost a miracle that the Canucks were still in this game.

The Canucks season came down to the third period. Even though they were heavily outplayed in this game they only needed to win the final 20 minutes to extend this series.

Third Period

Well, the Canucks were once again outshot in every period of a playoff game. This game just belonged to Thatcher Demko. The Knights came at them hard in the third period. They attempted 29 shots in the final frame but it was not enough to get a second goal past Demko.

The Lotto Line scored another goal late in the game to give the Canucks the second goal that they needed to get the win. Boeser was having a good night overall and it showed on the scoresheet. He fired a shot from the point that was tipped by Pettersson’s shaft and the Canucks rode their 2-1 lead all the way to the end.

The Canucks did just enough to get the win, Demko did more than enough to keep them in this game.

The Fancies

Top Performers

This may have been the easiest pick of the playoffs.

Thatcher Demko was far and away the top performer in this game. He allowed just one goal on 79 shot attempts against. He made 43 saves in game five and the Canucks needed this type of performance. He had an incredible balance of athleticism and poise.

Demko looked big when challenging shooters and he was quick enough in the crease to battle against high danger shots in tight.

Wrap-Up

Brock Boeser once again looked like an all-star. He led the team in shot attempts (6), shots on goal (5), individual scoring chances (4) and points (2). Boeser was all over the ice and was engaged in the forecheck even before he was reunited with The Lotto Line in the middle part of the second period.

Demko has now put himself into the conversation for game six even if Markstrom is healthy. It’s hard to go against a goaltender who just saved 43 of 44 shots.

The Canucks live to fight another day because of their young goaltender and they will be back in action on Thursday for game six.