Published Friday, May 18, 2018 | 4:09 p.m.
Updated Friday, May 18, 2018 | 7:50 p.m.
Jets’ star defenseman Dustin Byfuglien whiffed on a shot at the point with the game tied 2-2 late in the third period, and Reilly Smith jumped on the puck.
Smith outskated the Jets’ down the ice, and painted a wrist shot just under the crossbar to beat Connor Hellebuyck’s blocker.
The goal gave Vegas its third lead of the game 3-2 and the Golden Knights held on in the final moments to take a 3-1 series lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Now one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals, the Golden Knights head to Winnipeg for an early game Sunday. The puck drops at noon Pacific Standard Time.
Marc-Andre Fleury was his usual self, stopping XX shots to earn his 11th win of the playoffs for Vegas.
William Karlsson opened the scoring with his sixth goal of the postseason — a one-timer off the stick of Jonathan Marchessault on the power play.
Winnipeg tied the game in the second period with a power play goal of its own by Patrick Laine. The 19-year-old took his spot in the left circle, and drilled a slap shot past Fleury to make it 1-1.
Like they have throughout most of the playoffs, the Golden Knights had an answer. Only seconds after costing his team the lead with a penalty, Tomas Nosek scored to hand Vegas the lead back on his next shift.
The Jets once again tied the game in the third period when Tyler Myers deflected a shot through Fleury’s pads.
Smith’s goal sealed it for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights lead 2-1 after two periods
The Jets tied the game for 43 seconds.
Tomas Nosek took a senseless tripping penalty 200 feet from his own goal, and it evenatually led to a power play goal by Patrick Laine to tie Winnipeg with the Golden Knights 1-1.
Laine’s one-timer blast squeezed through a sliding Marc-Andre Fleury for Laine’s fifth goal of the playoffs.
But Nosek would quickly get redemption. The fourth-liner went straight back onto the ice after serving his penalty and put the Golden nights back in front 2-1.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare circled behind the Jets’ net and tried a wraparound shot, but Connor Hellebuyck was there tightly hugging the post to keep it out. The rebound bounced right in front, and Nosek cleaned it up by flicking it into the net.
The Jets have outshot the Golden Knights 25-22 through two periods but Fleury has again been spectacular including a sprawling glove save on Bryan Little.
Golden Knights lead 1-0 after one period
William Karlsson gave the Golden Knights another early lead at home Friday night, scoring a power play goal only 2:25 into the contest.
Jets defenseman Tyler Meyers was called for interference after knocking Ryan Carpenter down away from the puck as he attempted to enter the zone, and the Golden Knights quickly made Winnipeg pay with the man advantage.
Jonathan Marchessault found Karlsson with a beautiful cross-seam pass and Karlsson one-timed it into the wide-open net.
Winnipeg found its legs later in the period and controlled pace late in the first, but couldn’t beat Marc-Andre Fleury. The veteran netminder stopped all 10 shots faced while the Golden Knights finished with nine shots on goal.
Vegas had another great chance on the power play when James Neal fired a wrist shot from the slot, and Erik Haula was waiting for the rebound right on the doorstep, but Connor Hellebuyck stopped them both to keep the Jets within one goal.
It seems to be the case every time the take the ice now, but tonight’s game four is once again the most important game in Golden Knights franchise history.
With a win, Vegas claims a 3-1 series lead and is one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals. In the history of the NHL playoffs, only 24 of the 241 teams to go down 3-1 in a series have come back to win it.
On the other side, if Winnipeg wins tonight to even the series 2-2 the Jets will have a 58 percent chance of winning the series historically speaking.
Puck drop is at 5 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena and David Perron — who missed the last two games with an illness — will return to the lineup for the Golden Knights.
Prediction: Jets 3, Golden Knights 2
Playoffs record for predictions: 10-3
Season record for predictions: 38-26
Puck drops: 5:00 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: NBC Sports Network (DirecTV 220, Cox 1038, Dish Network 159)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-120, Total 5.5 minus-115 to the over
Golden Knights playoff record (10-3) (5-1 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Playoffs goal leader: Jonathan Marchessault (8)
Playoffs assist leader: Reilly Smith (13)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (10-3, 1.70 goals against average)
Winnipeg Jets playoff record (9-6) (4-3 away)
Coach: Paul Maurice
Playoffs goal leader: Mark Scheifele (14)
Playoffs assist leader: Blake Wheeler (17)
Expected goalie: Connor Hellebuyck (9-6, 2.34 goals against average)
Golden Knights expected game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Lagace