Jets at Golden Knights
Playing on the road has not fazed the Winnipeg Jets in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and they need to continue that strong play away from home as the Western Conference finals shift to Las Vegas for Game 3 Wednesday against the Golden Knights. Vegas snatched home ice with a gritty 3-1 victory Monday in Game 2 at Winnipeg, and now the Jets - who have lost in regulation just once in six road games during the postseason - look to respond as the Golden Knights did Monday.
But nobody in the Jets locker room is panicking after losing one home contest, and as defenseman Jacob Trouba offered to reporters after Monday’s game: “We like our road game. We like where it was in the Nashville series, and we’re going to try and bring the same effort.” The Golden Knights, who did not face the type of firepower Winnipeg possesses in the opening two rounds, nonetheless shook off a Game 1 loss by surviving an early onslaught against goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, building a 2-0 lead and making life uncomfortable in the neutral zone for the Jets. Forward Jonathan Marchessault, who labeled Game 2 a “must win,” backed it up with two goals to lead a spirited effort that has the expansion Golden Knights poised to take the series lead on home ice. “Every time we need a big game out of our group, we show up,” Marchessault told the media after the game. “I think we showed the hockey world that we earned the right to be here, and we are able to play against a great team.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NBC Sports Network, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA
ABOUT THE JETS: Winnipeg did not play poorly in Game 2, but were nowhere near as sharp as they were in the series opener and were victimized several times by turnovers and sloppy puck handling. Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves, but gave up Marchessault’s second goal 88 seconds after forward Kyle Connor’s power-play marker pulled the Jets within one in the third period. Connor’s linemates - forward Blake Wheeler and center Mark Scheifele - have combined for 15 goals and 36 points in the postseason but were held off the scoresheet in Game 2.
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Marchessault leads Vegas in playoff goals (six) and points (15), and the 5-9 forward finished plus-2 Monday while sparking his line of center William Karlsson and forward Reilly Smith to a combined plus-6 finish. Fleury, who gave up three goals in the opening 7:35 of Game 1, fended off several good scoring chances in the opening minutes Monday en route to a 30-save performance. Vegas was much better in several areas in Game 2, blocking 21 shots and winning 51 percent of faceoff attempts.
1. Vegas F Tomas Tatar, who drew into the lineup for just the fifth time in 12 playoff games, scored the game’s opening goal and finished plus-1 in 10:14.
2. Winnipeg D Dustin Byfuglien had maybe his quietest night of the playoffs Monday, finishing minus-2 while recording only one hit and one shot on goal.
3. Smith assisted on both of Marchessault’s goals to give him 13 assists for the postseason, two behind Wheeler for tops in the NHL.