Shea Theodore scored 2:05 into overtime and the Vegas Golden Knights eked out a 3-2 win over the host Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and assist, and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for Vegas (39-28-4), which stretched its win streak to five games.
The Canucks (32-28-10) went down 2-0 in the first period but rallied with goals from J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat in the third.
Robin Lehner returned from a lower-body injury to put up a 26-save performance for Vegas. The Swedish netminder made his first start since March 8.
Vancouver’s Thatcher Demko stopped 27-of-30 shots as the Canucks lost their third in a row.
The game marked the first half of a home-and-home series between the two sides, with the rematch set to go Wednesday in Vegas.
Vancouver came into Sunday’s game seven points behind Vegas in the Western Conference standings, with both teams still battling with the Winnipeg Jets, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators for the two wild-card spots.
Canucks defenceman Tyler Myers nearly did away with the need for extra time with a close-range shot as the clock expired. But Lehner forced overtime by getting a piece of the puck with his glove.
Vancouver had a prime opportunity to pot the equalizer midway through the third after Marchessault was called for tripping Miller.
Horvat and Quinn Hughes troubled Lehner with tough shots, but the Vegas netminder held firm until his teammate Brayden McNabb put the puck over the glass with just three seconds left on the penalty.
McNabb was called for delay of game, gifting the Canucks a very brief five-on-three advantage.
The home side capitalized with an odd goal.
So that's how it went in 😏 pic.twitter.com/bdNUUdLQkK
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) April 4, 2022
Horvat lost the faceoff to William Karlsson but the puck popped out, hitting the stick of Vegas defenceman Alec Martinez and squeaking past Lehner for the equalizer at the 9:42 mark.
Vancouver was 1-for-3 with the man advantage Sunday while Vegas went 0-for-3.
Down 2-0 coming into the third, the Canucks rallied early to cut their deficit in half.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson dished a short pass to Miller at the top of the slot and the feisty forward sent a rocket flying past Lehner to make it 2-1 at the 1:42 mark.
Vancouver appeared to lose an important piece late in the second period when right-winger Brock Boeser got caught up in teammate Elias Pettersson’s hit on Ben Hutton near the penalty box.
Boeser writhed in pain on the ice for a moment before getting up and skating off holding his wrist. He went directly to the locker room, but returned to start the third.
The Canucks were already a man down after Tucker Poolman didn’t join his teammates on the bench to start the second period.
Sunday marked the defenceman’s return to the lineup after missing 26 games while dealing with migraines but Poolman played just four minutes, 25 seconds, all in the first period. The team said he would not return due to an upper-body injury.
Marchessault cushioned the Vegas lead 12:31 into the opening frame, blasting a wrist shot past Demko from the top of the face-off circle for his 28th goal of the season.
The tally extended Marchessault’s point streak to five games with three goals and six assists across the stretch.
Jack Eichel set up the opening strike, dishing the puck to Pietrangelo off a draw. The defenceman uncorked a short-side shot that found space between Demko’s shoulder and the crossbar to give the visitors an early 1-0 lead.
Vegas was outshooting Vancouver 10-1 when Pietrangelo scored.
Vancouver’s best chance of the first came on a late penalty kill after Pettersson was handed a double minor for a high stick on Shea Theodore.
Horvat escaped for a short-handed breakaway, only to see Lehner make a pad save on his wrist shot.
NOTES: Forward Jason Dickinson returned to the Canucks lineup after missing 16 games with a lower-body injury. … The Golden Knights improved to 10-0-2 in regular-season play against the Canucks.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter