Knights ground Jets for good, advance in Playoffs
After dropping the opening game of the series, the Vegas Golden Knights reeled off four straight wins to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets in five games with the final blow coming Thursday night with a, 4-1, win over Winnipeg.
“We stuck together,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “We did the right things and we played the right way.”
Vegas now heads to the Western Conference Semifinals and will await the winner of the Edmonton – Los Angeles series.
“We lost a bit of our urgency and execution there in third after about the ten minute mark,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We weren’t skating pucks out and making plays so we made it interesting on [goalie Laurent Brossoit] but I thought it was our best checking game. I don’t think we gave up much.”
Former Winnipeg backup and now starting Vegas goaltender Brossoit started every game of the series, going 4-1-0 during the five games. He finished the series with 141 saves on 154 shots faced for a final save percentage of .921 for the series which included saving 30 of 31 shots in Game 5.
“Start to finish, every line and every defensive pair was very motivated and playing at the top of their game,” Brossoit said. “I thought it was our best game.”
Defensemen Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb both missed Thursday’s Game 5 due to injury. McNabb is day-to-day with an upper body injury according to the team. Theodore missed the game due to illness but the team did not provide a timetable on Theodore’s potential return.
It did not take long for the home team to find the scoreboard. Center Chandler Stephenson scored on a feed from captain and Winnipeg native Mark Stone before fans could even find their seats. Vegas claimed a 1-0 lead just 50 seconds into the game. It was Stephenson’s third goal of the series.
Vegas controlled the first period, especially the opening ten minutes where the Knights outshot the Jets 8-2 to start the game. Stephenson’s goal was the lone goal of the period, giving Vegas a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.
Stone added to his point total in the second period when he lit the lamp just 42 seconds into the middle frame. Much like Stepenson, that goal also marked Stone’s third goal of the series.
Center William Karlsson added to the Vegas lead when he scored with over 15 minutes to go in the second to make it a 3-0 lead.
This was Karlsson’s fourth goal of the series which is the most he has scored in any playoff series in his career.
“I think we played more and more solid with each game,” Karlsson said.
Stephenson added to his goal total halfway through the second period when he got a feed on the left side to put his team up 4-0. It is Stephenson’s first multi-goal playoff game in his career. He has a four-game point streak which is a career-best for Stephenson.
“I’m just trying to be myself as much as I can,” Stephenson said.
Stephenson also joins former Vegas Golden Knight Max Pacioretty as the only two players to have four straight multi-point games in the playoffs. During the four-game stretch, Stephenson has grabbed three goals and assisted on four additional goals for a total of seven points.
Vegas entered the third period with a 4-0 lead and 20 minutes away from a spot in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Speaking of point streaks, Stone extended his point streak to four games with a goal and an assist in Thursday’s game. Stone had seven points during the four-game stretch. He finished the game with three points which included the goal and two assists to lead all scorers for the game.
Thursday was Stone’s fourth career multi-point playoff game and second of the series.
Left-winger Kyle Connor represented the lone Winnipeg goal when he scored with 5:38 left in regulation to get the Jets on the board and make it a 4-1 game.
Winnipeg left their net open for the last eight minutes of regulation as desperation struck the Jets being down 4-0 at the time. A handful of minutes later, Winnipeg had scored their second goal of the game but it was taken away due to a penalty review.