Trevor Hagan/The Canadian Press via AP
Published Monday, May 14, 2018 | 4 p.m.
Updated Monday, May 14, 2018 | 7:39 p.m.
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Golden Knights topped the Jets 3-1 to steal away home-ice advantage in the Western Conference Finals Monday night in Winnipeg.
Tomas Tatar, who has spent most of the postseason as a healthy scratch and had yet to score in his four playoff appearances, opened the scoring in the first period.
Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped Tatar’s initial shot, but Tatar followed his rebound and tucked it in from the side of the net.
Jonathan Marchessault followed that up with a goal of his own, beating Hellebuyck between his legs on a breakaway to give Vegas a 2-0 lead in the first period. Reilly Smith made the play possible with a steal near center ice, then passed to Marchessault who was streaking through the neutral zone.
The Golden Knights were able to maintain that lead until the 7:17 mark of the third when Kyle Connor ended Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout bid with a sneaky short-side shot from a bad angle. Connor’s wrister somehow found its way through Fleury’s pads and trickled into the goal to cut the Golden Knights’ lead to one.
But less than two minutes later, Marchessault answered. Smith protected the puck as he entered Winnipeg’s zone, then flicked a gorgeous pass to Marchessault in front of the goal. Marchessault deked to Hellebuyk’s right and backhanded it past him to extend the lead to 3-1.
Fleury held the Jets’ final push to earn his ninth win of the postseason.
The series now shifts to Las Vegas, where the teams will meet Wednesday at 6 p.m. for Game Three.
Golden Knights lead 2-0 after two periods
Not much happened in the second period of Monday night’s game in Winnipeg between the Golden Knights and Jets, but that’s exactly what Vegas wants.
The Golden Knights are nursing a 2-0 lead heading into the third period as they try to steal home ice advantage from the Jets.
Protecting that lead won’t be easy, as Winnipeg will start the period on the power play after Blake Wheeler drew a tripping call on Brayden McNabb with only two seconds remaining in the second period.
The Jets are 0-for-2 tonight with a man advantage but scored two power play goals in game one.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been his usual, brilliant self in goal, stopping all 19 shots he has faced so far.
Golden Knights lead 2-0 after one period
Tomas Tatar had played in only four playoff games for the Golden Knights this postseason, but coach Gerard Gallant inserted him into the lineup for tonight’s crucial game two.
Tatar rewarded him with a first period goal to put the Golden Knights up 1-0 and give them their first lead of the series.
Tatar received a cross-ice pass from Shea Theodore and fired it at the net, but Jets’ goalie Connor Hellebuyck slid over to make a spectacular pad save. Tatar followed the rebound behind the net, and squeezed it into the goal mouth.
It was Tatar’s first point of the postseason.
Minutes later, Jonathan Marchessault scored his fifth goal of the playoffs to put Vegas up 2-0.
Reilly Smith made a great play while back checking by lifting Kyle Connor’s stick and stealing the puck. He fed Marchessault, who skated into the Winnipeg zone all alone, deked left and slid the puck through Hellebuyck’s pads.
Fleury stopped all 11 shots that he faced in the first period.
After the 4-2 loss in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Golden Knights’ forward Jonathan Marchessault said the next game was a must-win.
The puck drops for Game 2 tonight at the Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg, and the Golden Knights desperately need a win to avoid falling behind in the series 2-0.
“You can’t lose your first two games (of a series) in the playoffs, especially against a team like that,” Marchessault said after today’s morning skate. “Tonight is a big game for us, and it’s going to determine a lot of the character in this locker room. We definitely need to respond after a game like that.”
The Golden Knights were down 3-0 in Game 1 before the midway point of the first period, but played much better as the game went on.
“We are still a confident group,” Marchessault said. “Home advantage in the playoffs is huge. They worked all season to have it and they took advantage of it the other night.”
We may see a shakeup in the Golden Knights’ lineup if morning skate is any indication.
Ryan Carpenter skated on the third line with Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin this morning after playing the last few games on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Reaves.
“I don’t think it’s too much different (playing on this line),” Carpenter said. “I try to play the same game and just work hard and stick to the details of the game. All year I’ve pretty much played on the third and fourth line, so it doesn’t really matter where I’m at.”
Tomas Tatar — who has sat out of most of the playoffs as a healthy scratch — was skating in place of David Perron this morning, and Tomas Nosek was skating alongside fourth-liners Reaves, Bellemare and Lindberg. Coach Gerard Gallant wouldn’t confirm if Tatar or Nosek would play but said there is a chance.
The answer won’t be revealed until pregame warm-ups.
Whoever is in the lineup, they will have to play significantly better than they did in Game 1 if Vegas has any chance of stealing a game in Canada.
“We have tons of confidence in this locker room,” Haula said. “We know the things that we can do better as a team and individually, and we set the bar high. Last game wasn’t good enough, so we are looking to have a better start and play a full 60-minute game.
“You come on the road and the challenge is to get a split, and we have an opportunity to do that tonight.”
Prediction: Golden Knights 3, Jets 2
Playoffs record for predictions: 8-3
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 5 p.m.
Where: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: NBC Sports Network (DirecTV 220, Cox 1038, Dish Network 159)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-130, Total 6 minus-120 to the under
Golden Knights playoff record (8-3) (4-2 away)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Playoffs goal leader: William Karlsson (5)
Playoffs assist leader: Reilly Smith (11)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (8-3, 1.74 goals against average)
Winnipeg Jets playoff record (9-4) (5-2 home)
Coach: Paul Maurice
Playoffs goal leader: Mark Scheifele (12)
Playoffs assist leader: Blake Wheeler (15)
Expected goalie: Connor Hellebuyck (9-4, 2.23 goals against average)