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Vegas drops Game 1 to Winnipeg, lose home-ice advantage

Slippage in the third period was all the difference in Vegas’ 5-1 loss to Winnipeg in game one of the Western Conference first round Tuesday night.

Coming into the playoffs, the Jets were the last team to qualify for the championship bracket while being slotted to play the top seed in the West, the Golden Knights. Now, Vegas will have to steal a game on the road to gain back the home-ice advantage.

“It’s playoff hockey,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “You need an intensity level that was greater than the one we had – we got to it eventually where we started to play a better hockey game in the second period.

“But I’ll say this, I don’t think they were doing anything special either. They get full value for the win, don't get me wrong for that. They deserved to win and they did but some of it was self-inflicted.”

Game two will take place at the T-Mobile Arena Thursday, April 20 with puck drop set for 7 p.m.

“We’ve just got to be resilient here,” center Jack Eichel said. “It’s a seven-game series so we just have to come back and be better next game.”

In the third period of game one, Winnipeg outshot Vegas, 15-8, while scoring several times, putting the game out of reach more and more with each lighting of the lamp. Going into the final 20 minutes of regulation, the road team held a 2-1 lead.

Less than four minutes into the third period, the Jets put another one on the board to go up two. That marked the first of three third period goals for the road team.

With just about two minutes left in regulation, Cassidy opted to remove goaltender Laurent Brossoit from in between the pipes. Moments after, Winnipeg would put up a fourth goal. To add insult to injury with an insurance goal, Winnipeg scored again with 19 seconds left in the game.

Before that final goal, tensions reached a boiling point after it had bubbled up on several instances before. Right-wing Keegan Kolesar was given a boarding penalty at the 19:00-mark of the third period while teammate Nicolas Hague and Jets player Saku Maenalanen were assessed misconduct penalties.

At the conclusion of the second period, both teams were engaged in a several-player scuffle which included a late cross-check and a goal being wiped off the board. No penalties came of that kerfuffle despite both teams combining for 32 penalty minutes.

By the conclusion of the game, Vegas had compiled a season-high 65 hits after having a high of 44 during the regular season.

After a scoreless first period, Winnipeg put two goals past the aforementioned Brossoit in a 52-second span early in the second. Brossoit was chosen to start game one, his first playoff start, by Cassidy over two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

Brossoit finished with a .867 save percentage on 26 saves in just under 59 minutes on the ice.

Vegas’ offense stalled until center William Karlsson’s wrist shot lit the lamp for the home team for the first time this playoff run. That marked his 20th career playoff goal and his 18th with the Golden Knights.

Furthermore, that goal came after several changes to the originally set lineups by Cassidy.

Aside from that, Vegas went much of the game without a spark on the offensive end. This included the team going 0-for-3 in power play opportunities in game one. Moreover, the Knights were only able to muster one shot during those chances.

“We’re obviously going to have to take a look into that,” Captain Mark Stone said. “I think if I could tell you what we need to do, we would’ve done it for that last power play. I think we’ve got to simplify.”

Going back to the regular season, Vegas is now two for its last 22 power play opportunities.

The aforementioned Stone back from injury, after being activated from long-term injured reserve Monday. While dealing with a back issue, Stone was limited to just 17 games this regular season.

Stone graced the ice for just over 21 minutes while failing to accumulate an official offensive stat. The VGK were outscored by three with Stone on the ice.

“I felt like I missed three months obviously,” he said. “The pace of the game is really ramped up at this time. Hopefully, I’ll just feel better and better going into [the] next game. But, no excuses right? I’ve been in this league long enough to know what needs to be done.”


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