VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — There were times in the third period Tuesday night when Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau felt like a cartoon rabbit.
His team came into the final frame up by two, but conceded a pair of goals to the Vegas Golden Knights, forcing extra time in a crucial game for both sides.
“I was telling the guys in there, ‘Have you ever seen the old Bugs Bunny cartoons when he sees another bunny that’s really pretty and the red heart keeps coming out of your chest?’ I felt like that in the third period,” Boudreau said.
Quinn Hughes scored 51 seconds into overtime and Vancouver kept its slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-4 win over Vegas.
The result moves Vancouver within three points of Vegas. Both teams are battling for wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
“We know where we are in the standings and where we are,” Hughes said. “It would have been nice to get it in regulation, but at the end of the day, we still got two points and at the end of the day, that’s what we wanted to do.”
Elias Pettersson had goal and a pair of assists for the Canucks in regulation. Bo Horvat had a goal and an assist. Vasily Podkolzin and Brad Richardson rounded out the scoring for Vancouver, which has won four straight games.
“It’s pretty clear what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to win,” Pettersson said.
“We feel pretty good now, we’ve won four in a row. But it doesn’t mean (much) if we don’t continue this way, playing good hockey. We’re still behind, we’ve still got to win games. And we’re just thinking about the next one.”
Shea Theodore scored two goals in the third period, Alec Martinez had a goal and an assist and Michael Amadio added a score for the Golden Knights (40-30-4).
“Obviously proud of the way the guys battled back,” Martinez said. “Getting points this time of year is big but that said, we’re shooting for two, not one. There’s something that we need to tighten up, some things we need to work on but we just got to focus on next game.”
Vancouver got a 41-save performance from Thatcher Demko. Robin Lehner stopped 22 of 27 shots for Vegas.
The Golden Knights pulled Lehner with 1:46 left on the game clock in favor of an extra attacker.
With 41.4 seconds to go, Theodore launched a shot from the top of the faceoff circle and the puck flew over Demko’s glove for the tying goal.
Theodore brought Vegas within one 6:27 into the third period, whipping a shot past Demko’s blocker side from the faceoff dot. Theodore has 12 goals this season.
The Golden Knights outshot the Canucks 8-0 in the first 10 minutes of the period.
Pettersson set up Vancouver’s fourth goal with a highlight-reel play midway through the second, intercepting the puck in the neutral zone and streaking down the ice with Richardson on a 2-on-1. He appeared poised to shoot in tight, but instead sent a no-look pass across the slot to Richardson, who tapped it in.
Vegas cut the deficit to a goal 4:35 into the second when Amadio’s shot from the low slot deflected in off of Horvat to make it 3-2.
Vancouver took a two-goal lead 79 seconds earlier when Conor Garland sprang Pettersson for a breakaway and the star forward fired a shot on net. Lehner made the stop, then fell backward with the puck falling between his legs. Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud pushed it over the goal line with his skate.
Officials on the ice initially waved the goal off, but after a video review, Pettersson was credited with his 26th of the season and the Canucks took a 3-1 lead.
Vancouver opened the second with more than a minute and a half left on a power play after Evgenii Dadonov was called for high-sticking late in the opening frame.
Stationed in front of the net, Podkolzin took a slap pass from Pettersson and looked to snap a shot past Lehner. His initial attempt hit the post but the Russian rookie collected his rebound and popped it in.
His 11th goal of the season, coming 1:27 into the second, put the Canucks up 2-1.
Vancouver went 2 for 3 on the man advantage, while Vegas failed to score on three power plays.
Special teams are something the Golden Knights need to work on, head coach Pete DeBoer said.
“Well, we’ll take the point. I think we’re gonna have to be better than that down the stretch in order to get where we want to go,” he said. “You can’t lose the special teams battle 2-0 and expect to win any game, so that’s probably the first place we got to clean up.”
The Golden Knights dominated the action through much of the first period and finally got on the board at the 16:59 mark.
Martinez sent a puck soaring from above the faceoff circle, with the shot ticking off Vancouver defenseman Travis Dermott in front of the net before skittering in past Demko. It was Martinez’s first goal of the season.
The Canucks were being outshot 13-5 when the Golden Knights put away the equalizer, forcing Demko to make some big stops.
Much of the crowd had barely settled into their seats when the Canucks opened the scoring.
Alex Pietrangelo was called for tripping Horvat just 57 seconds into the game and Vancouver was quick to capitalize on the man advantage.
A quick passing sequence saw J.T. Miller dish the puck to Alex Chiasson at the goal line and Chiasson send it to Horvat at the hash marks. The Canucks captain ripped a snap shot, beating Lehner for his 31st goal of the season.
The goal extended Horvat’s scoring streak to five games, with five goals and two assists during the stretch.
NOTES: Mark Stone returned to the Golden Knights’ lineup after missing 26 games with a back injury. … Chiasson notched an assist on Horvat’s goal and now has assists in four straight games.
Golden Knights: At the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Canucks: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports