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Knights: Canucks’ Roussel only fueled fire of rout

Vancouver Canucks agitator Antoine Roussel tried to get under the Vegas Golden Knights’ skin in Game 1 of their series. Instead, the Knights said Roussel helped fuel their 5-0 blowout win on Sunday in Edmonton, Alberta.

“He’s running around out there. I don’t think he’s distracting anyone but himself,” forward Reilly Smith said with a chuckle. “I don’t think he changed the game at all tonight [for Vancouver]. If that’s the way he wants to play the remainder of the series, then I think he just hurts his own team.”

Roussel, who had 43 penalty minutes in 41 games in the regular season, began the night by having words with Vegas goalie Robin Lehner during the pregame skate. He tried to get physical with Knights players, with seven hits in the game, tied for most on the team.

His agitation didn’t get Vegas players off their games.

“I don’t think anyone was bothered about it,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “That’s why we pay Reavo the big bucks. He’s going to take care of it, and we’ll just do our own thing.”

“Reavo” is Vegas enforcer Ryan Reaves, who noticed Roussel’s interaction with Lehner during warm-ups and was the Canucks forward’s tormentor throughout the night. Reaves delivered a few hits on Roussel. He taunted him by clucking like a chicken from the Vegas bench. He goaded Roussel into taking a 10-minute misconduct in the third period, when Roussel hugged Reaves around the neck to chirp at him. Reaves gave Roussel a thumbs-up and laughed at him while he was in the penalty box.

“That’s part of our game plan is to get a piece of people when we’re out there. We have a few guys that enjoy that part of it,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said.

As for Lehner, who made 26 saves in the shutout win, he said Roussel deserved some credit for the victory.

“He got a couple of extra [save] percentages out of me today,” Lehner said. “I hope he keeps going. He’s just poking the bear.”

Game 2 between Vegas and Vancouver is scheduled for Tuesday in Edmonton.

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