Published: Sun, May 13, 2018

Jets jump on Golden Knights early, open series with win

Jets jump on Golden Knights early, open series with win

There were times when the Golden Knights seemed a little over their heads, arguably for the first real time during the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Updates with quotes and details.

Wheeler compiled three assists - including two on the power play - as the Jets defeated the Golden Knights 4-2 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Saturday. Forty-six seconds later it was Joel Armia increasing the lead to 3-0 after the puck deflected off of his skate.

Game 2 goes Monday at 7 Bell MTS Place.

Or, maybe the Jets are just that good.

The Winnipeg Jets have drawn first blood in the NHL's Western Conference final.

"Continually improving, that was an area of emphasis we could work on, play a little bit desperate, get in front of those pucks, get in those lanes and do those little things that help you go back the other way on offence", Wheeler said. "We're still in game mode". Mark Scheifele scored his 12th goal, most of any skater in the playoffs, while Vegas got a goal from William Karlsson.

"We were chasing the game all night", Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. Marcandre Fleury stopped 22 shots.

It was the first time in the history of the Golden Knights franchise that they lost game one of a best out of seven series.

"Next game, no excuses", Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault said.

"We're going to show what kind of team we are".

The hard-charging, smooth-passing Jets put the Pacific Division champions on their heels right from the start and didn't relent.

"You saw the Dustin Byfuglien spectrum", Winnipeg's Paul Maurice said. And, they were given plenty of opportunities to celebrate in the opening minutes. That ignited the party-like atmosphere in a relatively cozy arena with just 16,345 seats and a low ceiling.

Having knocked off the Presidents' Trophy winners in Game 7 of a gruelling slugfest less than 48 hours earlier, the Winnipeg Jets had an excuse if their legs were exhausted on Saturday night. "And then all of the sudden it gave life to everyone, everyone on the bench, the crowd". Five minutes later, Patrik Laine was the recipient of a great Blake Wheeler pass for a power play goal to make it 2-0.

Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice disagreed with the decision and chose to challenge the call on the ice.

You don't get to the third round of the National Hockey League playoffs without making a few sacrifices and when you arrive there, you have to take that commitment to another level.

After the flurry of goals early, the Jets were able to play conservatively to cut down on Vegas' comeback chances.

"He's awesome and he's been awesome for us all playoffs", added Scheifele, who like Byfuglien finished with a goal and an assist. "We weren't fooling around with it in the neutral zone".

Fleury will need to bounce back, and the Golden Knights must put more pressure on Connor Hellebuyck. According to Rule 49.2 "A puck that deflects into the net off an attacking player's skate who does not use a distinct kicking motion is a legitimate goal".

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