Any worries that the Vegas Golden Knights might be distracted by Tweetgate were quickly dispelled Sunday night when they blew past the Vancouver Canucks 5-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series.
The well-rested Golden Knights were never really threatened, taking a 1-0 lead midway through the first period on a Jonathan Marchessault goal, extending the margin to 4-0 in the second period and then cruising home as Robin Lehner picked up his first career playoff shutout with 26 saves.
A little over 24 hours earlier, the Twitterverse was on fire after Allan Walsh, the longtime agent and friend of popular Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, tweeted out a graphic of Fleury with a large sword inscribed with the name DeBoer, as in Vegas coach Peter DeBoer, on the handle and stuck through his back.
Fleury, though he is upset over his lack of playing time in the postseason, had his agent delete the tweet on Sunday well after the damage had been done and later held a press conference where he then told reporters, “All I care about is winning and what’s best for the team.”
DeBoer didn’t address the matter until after the lopsided Game 1 victory and said he was “100 percent confident” that the matter had been settled.
“The whole goalie situation, that’s outside noise that really isn’t going to play any part in what we’re doing here,” DeBoer said. “We’re here for one thing and that’s to now win Game 2 against Vancouver and hopefully keep moving forward here.”
Vegas, off since eliminating Chicago in five games in the first round on Aug. 18, steamrolled the Canucks both on the scoresheet and physically in Game 1, rolling up 54 hits, including 11 by Ryan Reaves and nine by William Carrier.
“Part of the game plan is to get a piece of people whenever we get a chance out there,” DeBoer said. “We’ve got some guys who enjoy that part of it. (Reaves and Carrier) ending up with 20 hits, that’s a good night for them. …
“It was a good win, a good team win. We came out ready to play.”
Reilly Smith, Mark Stone and Alex Tuch each had a goal and an assist for Vegas, which improved to 9-0-2 all-time against Vancouver.
Vancouver coach Travis Green, whose team faced a quick turnaround after eliminating the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues late Friday night, refused to use fatigue as an excuse for the loss.
“(Vegas is) a fast team, they’re a good team,” Green said. “We just need to play better. We didn’t play very well tonight.”
The Canucks were shut out by the Minnesota Wild 3-0 in the first game in the Qualifying Round before winning the next three in a row. They extended their winning streak to five before losing back-to-back games to the Blues, but they rebounded to win Games 5 and 6 by a combined score of 10-5.
“I have a lot of belief in our group,” Green said. “That hasn’t changed. Whenever we’ve challenged them and asked them to respond, they’ve always given us an effort. One game. We’ll meet with our group (Monday) and we’ll be ready for the next game.”
DeBoer said, “We know they’re going to push back. We’re going to have to bring the same effort and respect to the game in Game 2 because it is only one win. You know you’re going to get a response from a team that just knocked off two really good teams.”
–Field Level Media