Published Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 | 4 p.m.
Updated Friday, Feb. 22, 2019 | 10:46 p.m.
The Golden Knights rocked the Jets in last year's Western Conference finals. This year though, it's been a different story.
The Golden Knights could not stop the Winnipeg onslaught and fell 6-3 at T-Mobile Arena on Friday. Vegas fell to 0-2 against the Jets this year, with one more game in Las Vegas still to play.
Down 4-2 entering the third period, Jonathan Marchessault scored just eight seconds into the frame, extending his team lead to 20 goals. William Karlsson gave him the puck to enter the zone, and Marchessault fired between defenseman Josh Morrissey's legs and over goalie Connor Hellebuyck's shoulder to trim the Jets' lead to 3-2.
Winnipeg didn't let the Golden Knights get that close again. They got 1:43 of 5-on-3 power play time and Patrik Laine netted his second of the season to make it 5-3.
Andrew Copp scored an empty-netter with 1:26 to go for the Jets.
Jets twist knife late in second
The second period appeared to be far better for the Golden Knights than the first period was. It turned out the Jets were just waiting for the end of the period to pounce.
The Golden Knights allowed two Winnipeg goals in the final 30 seconds of the period and Vegas trailed 4-2 after the two periods.
The Golden Knights tied the game at 8:09 of the second. Alex Tuch was relentless down low and won a puck battle to get the puck to Paul Stastny. He saw Shea Theodore at the line and gave it to the defenseman. Theodore took two steps and fired from the point, using a Brandon Pirri screen to even the game at 2-2.
The Golden Knights looked like they were going to get out of the period with a tie, but a later power play turned the tide for the Jets.
Patrik Laine had struggled with some puck in the frame and missed two good looks on the first Winnipeg power play of the frame. He didn't miss on the second power play. Laine lined up in his spot on the ice, took a feed from Jacob Trouba and blasted it into the net for a 3-2 Jets lead at 19:29.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the Jets scored again with 3.7 seconds left in the period. This time it was Adam Lowry, capitalizing on a scrum in front of the net and back-handing it home to give the Jets a 4-2 lead.
Jets strike quickly for a pair
The Golden Knight talked in practice this morning about needing to get up for a powerful Jets team. Instead the game started about as poorly as possible.
Vegas allowed two goals in the first 90 seconds and the Golden Knights trailed 2-1 after the first period at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.
Winnipeg's first goal came at the 56 mark, when the Jets forwards swarmed Marc-Andre Fleury, who made the first two saves. But the second rebound bounced right to Nikolaj Ehlers to the left of the crease, and Ehlers put it home.
Thirty-two seconds later, Kyle Connor forced a turnover in the Vegas zone and roofed it past Fleury. With an assist on the first goal, Connor picked up his eighth point in five games against Vegas in his career.
The Golden Knights got one back at 15:43 thanks to some pretty fourth-line passing. Ryan Reaves started the play by waiting for his linemates to enter the zone, then giving to Tomas Nosek. He dished behind the back to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who sniped it past Connor Hellebuyck for his fifth of the season.
Vegas led in shots on goal for the period, 11-10.
It's a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals, and a matchup of two struggling teams.
The Golden Knights have lost nine of their last 12 games and welcome the Winnipeg Jets, who have lost three in a row and six of eight, at 7 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena.
"I think it's two teams hungry to get a win tonight," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "They'll be ready to go."
The Jets were embarrassed their last time out, suffering a 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche that cost them first place in the Central Division. That's not great news for the Golden Knights. It's the most goals Winnipeg has allowed this season, and it means an angry team coming to Las Vegas.
The last time the Golden Knights allowed that many goals was back in November, and they responded by rattling off five wins in a row.
"I want their best shot. I want it to be a great game tonight," Gallant said. "You like to see two teams to battle it out."
Vegas is more concerned about getting out of its own rut than worrying about Winnipeg's problems. Forward Max Pacioretty said he liked the way the Golden Knights played against the Predators on Saturday, their last win, and they will have success if they emulate that.
"We got to get up for this game and make sure that we play like we did I think against Nashville," he said. "They're a pretty similar team in terms of skill and size and speed, so we want make life hard on them by making their (defense) turn for pucks. I know we say it often, but that's how we want to play."
Emerson's Prediction: Jets 5, Golden Knights 3
Season record for predictions: Keefer 5-5, Emerson 15-8
TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-155, Jets plus-135; over/under: 6 (minus-120, plus-100)
Golden Knights (32-25-5) (17-9-4 home), third place, Pacific Division
Coach: Gerard Gallant (second season)
Points leader: Alex Tuch (42)
Goals leader: Jonathan Marchessault (19)
Assists leader: Alex Tuch (26)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.60 gaa, .908 save percentage)
Jets (36-20-4) (15-13-0 road), second place, Central Division
Coach: Paul Maurice (fifth season)
Points leader: Blake Wheeler (69)
Goals leaders: Mark Scheifele (30)
Assists leader: Blake Wheeler (57)
Expected goalie: Connor Hellebuyck (2.98 gaa, .909 save percentage)
Golden Knights expected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Brandon Pirri, Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Oscar Lindberg, Cody Eakin, Max Pacioretty, Tomas Nosek, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb, Nate Schmidt, Shea Theodore, Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Nick Holden
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban