(Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images)

Las Vegas–Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets opened the Western Conference Finals series at Bell MTS Place in front of a sea of white.

With another significant break between playoff series, the Golden Knights finally felt what it was liked for them not playing a game since the series clincher back in San Jose on Sunday of round two of the playoffs where they defeated the Sharks 3-0.

On the other side, the Winnipeg Jets were fresh off of their game 7 victory over the Nashville Predators by a 5-1 final, so they went right after a rusty Golden Knights and for hosts of the opening contest of the series, they made Vegas feel it early.

Just 65 seconds into the Western Conference Finals the Jets put themselves on the board first in front of a ruckus “Whiteout” crowd of 15,321 at Bell MTS Place.

The scoring play started off with Mark Scheifele turning the Jets on in Vegas’s end of the ice and with his burst of speed, skated thru the neutral zone and into Golden Knights territory where he sent a drop pass back to Dustin Byfuglien in which he unloaded his heavy shot that beat Marc-André Fleury on his blocker side for the early 1-0 lead.

This was the first time in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Golden Knights did not open the scoring to start off a series against an opponent. They did it previously against the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks in rounds 1 and 2.

With the Golden Knights trailing and struggling early to find their game against Winnipeg, they put themselves into some penalty trouble with Alex Tuch hooking up Bryan Little.

A minute and five seconds into the Jets first power play opportunity of the game, they made Vegas pay for it and it was Winnipeg’s leading goal scorer Patrik Laine up to the task and getting it done.

As Laine was in perfect position all alone in the left face off circle, he took a cross ice feed pass from Blake Wheeler and ended up beating Fleury backdoor for a 2-0 Jets lead at the 6:49 mark of the frame.

But Winnipeg was not done with their scoring attack on the Golden Knights in the opening period of game 1. The next man up for them would be Joel Armia.

Armia was involved in a play that one would argue was considered to be goalie interference on Fleury, however after two lengthy reviews by the officials and with the situation room in Toronto, the goal counted.

It was concluded though, that Armia’s skate made contact off of a Ben Chiarot pass and the puck went into the net before he bumped into Fleury.

His goal gave the Jets a commanding 3-0 lead with 12:25 to go in the first.

After giving up the third goal of the game, the Golden Knights would finally get on the scoresheet from defenseman Brayden McNabb.

McNabb converted off of a pass from Jonathan Marchessault and beat Connor Hellebuyck glove side that cut into the Jets lead for a 3-1 score.

This gave McNabb his 2nd of the playoffs.

Previous to that, the last time he scored was back in the opening round of the Los Angeles series where his goal clinched the first ever sweep in Golden Knights history with a 1-0 victory on his former club.

In the middle period, the Jets would restore their 3 goal cushion on Vegas and it come on the power play against the Golden Knights and the mark came from leading scorer of the playoffs, Mark Scheifele.

Scheifele redirected a long range Byfuglien shot that Fleury was unable to grab onto with his glove and the puck trickled into the back of the Vegas net for a 4-1 Winnipeg lead at 9:54 into the frame.

This gave Scheifele his 12th of the playoffs.

Late in the 2nd period, Vegas would cut into the Jets once more and it came from Golden Knights leading scorer of the regular season William Karlsson as they were on the man advantage.

Marchessault’s long range pass from the point found Karlsson’s stick down low where he went backhander on Hellebuyck for a 4-2 score

This was as far as the Golden Knights would get on the Jets as Winnipeg drew first blood in the Western Conference Finals with a 4-2 win. In their short history, this was first time Vegas is trailing a series in this year playoffs.

At the end of the night, Fleury had a sub par performance in net for Vegas as he made 22 saves on 26 total shots and finished off with a .846 save percentage.

On the other end of the ice, Hellebuyck had himself a decent game for the Jets in his backstopping duties, besting out Fleury with a .905 save percentage and stopping 19 of 21 shots.

Game 2 of the series is on Monday May 15 at 5:00 pm PT as the Golden Knights look to even out the series at 1 win apiece.

3 Stars Of The Game

Winnipeg Jets: Dustin Byfuglien (1 goal, 1 assist, and 24:44 TOI)

Winnipeg Jets: Mark Scheifele (1 goal and 1 asisst)

Winnipeg Jets: Blake Wheeler (3 assists)

Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/VegasKOTR

 

 

Leave a Reply