Third straight win by Golden Knights push Jets to brink of elimination
A third straight win by the Vegas Golden Knights pushed the Winnipeg Jets to the brink of elimination, picking up another win in hostile territory.
Vegas beat Winnipeg, 4-2, from the Canada Life Centre Monday, April 24 to go up 3-1 in the two teams’ best-of-seven first round series. This season, the Golden Knights are 6-1 against the Jets including a 3-0 mark north of the border, this includes a 2-0 mark in the playoffs.
“It’s a really tough building to play in,” center Ivan Barbashev said. “I think we did a really good job as a team to just come in here and get a huge win in overtime the first game over here. I knew it would be a way tougher game today.”
After taking both meetings in Canada, the series now shifts back to Las Vegas for Game 5. Vegas will go for the series-clincher Thursday, April 27 with puck drop set for 7 p.m.
“We all know it’s going to be the hardest game of the series,” Barbashev said. “We all know they’re going to give their best and we’ve got to match that and give our best.”
Two goals in a 49-second span in the second period changed the complexion of the game for good as it gave the Golden Knights a two-goal cushion. The first goal of the two went to center William Karlsson who scored off a deflection on his lone shot attempt of the game. Karlsson picked up his third goal in four games played this postseason.
“They got the early one and you kind of feed off of that energy,” he said. “I think we were a little more cool this time around. [We were] still trying to make plays and try to keep the puck within our team. If we do that, they can’t score. We kept our heads a little bit cooler this time.”
Forty-nine seconds later, Barbashev put Vegas up two on his first playoff goal this go-around. In fact, Barbahsev picked up his first playoff goal since 2019.
During the three-game win streak, the Golden Knights have outshot the Jets, 117-93. This comes after Winnipeg won the shot battle, 31-17, in Game 1.
Center Brett Howden had himself a day picking up his first two career playoff goals, the first of which came in the game’s opening period to tie the game at one apiece. Howden scored off an assist from fellow center Chandler Stephenson on the first of his eventual two assists on the night. Defenseman Shea Theodore also recorded two assists en route to victory.
Howden’s second goal came in an empty net situation with just 17 seconds left in regulation to add insurance to Vegas’ 3-2 lead.
“He can create some room for you,” Karlsson said of Howden. “Because he’s not only just hitting and stuff like that, he can make plays too and he’s got a great shot as well. He’s got a little bit of everything and when he’s on top of his game, he’s going to make room for Chandler and [captain Mark Stone].
Both of Winnipeg’s two goals came on power plays as the team went two-for-two in such situations. In the first period, the Jets took advantage of an interference penalty by Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez. The goal came 1:01 after the initial penalty call for a 1-0 lead.
The second power play goal came in much faster fashion after a third period holding penalty by Game 3 hero Michael Amadio, who tallied two penalties on the night. Ten seconds after the initial penalty by Amadio, Winnipeg climbed a goal closer to close the gap to 3-2.
During the third period, the Canada Life Centre crowd showered VGK goaltender Laurent Brossoit with a “You’re a backup” chant. Brossoit played for Winnipeg for three years before becoming a member of the Vegas franchise.
“We don’t really pay attention to it to be honest,” Barbashev said. “Especially since I’ve played here a couple of times in the playoffs and it’s a great crowd. There’s a lot of energy coming from them but I don’t really care about it to be honest. Maybe even it kind of pushes us forward.”
Against his former team, Brossoit compiled 24 saves for a final save percentage of .923. In addition, he made his fourth straight start, something he hadn’t done all regular season.
“Oh yeah, I could hear them,” Brossoit said. “If anything, it’s just fuel. You get people chanting your name whether positive or negative, it’s fuel.”