After 7:25 of hockey had been played in Winnipeg, the Golden Knights had already lost Game 1. The score was 3-0, the crowd was buzzing, and the announcers were fawning over the Jets as if they were the 1977 Montreal Canadiens.
In the moment, it felt like the Golden Knights were being run out of the building by a far superior team. Winnipeg was quicker, stronger, faster, and crisper, while Vegas was stuck in the mud, panicky, and making countless poor decisions. That is what it felt like, yet that’s not what was actually happening on the ice.
If you scroll all the way down to the end of this article, you’ll see that I went through the first eight minutes of the game and wrote a transcript of exactly what happened in the game. If you feel like reading it and re-living it, feel free, but the real reason I’m publishing it isn’t for anyone to read it, it’s to prove two things. First, that I actually went and re-watched it on super slow motion, slow enough to be able to write a 1700 word recap of the events, and secondly so that anyone who disagrees with this article can roll back the game-tape themselves and point out the moments in which our opinions of what happened differ.
The puck drops to begin the game and nothing happens for :17. Remember, it only took 1:05 for the Jets to take the lead. Then, the first real event of the game occurs and it’s a terrific play by Nate Schmidt. He singlehandedly breaks up a 4-on-3 rush of the Jets and starts a 3-on-2 the other way for Vegas. This is the kind of play we’ve seen all year from the Golden Knights and a play that usually ends in better fashion than this one did.
Marchessault gives the puck away on a somewhat careless turnover ending the Golden Knights rush. However, this is not what led to the Jets goal. Instead, it was a miscommunication by Shea Theodore and Deryk Engelland, combined with a shot that should have been saved by Fleury. In other words, a good play led to three bad ones and a goal against.
Ok, so it’s 1-0 Winnipeg after a sequence of errors that’s incredibly rare for the Golden Knights. It’s bad, but it didn’t have to do with speed, quickness, or physicality, and it started because on an odd-man rush in Vegas’ favor that an unforced error ended. Aside from the well-placed shot from Byfuglien, this was not a Jets goal as much as it was a trio of subsequent Vegas mistakes.
Next there’s a stretch of 4:39 of hockey in which Vegas has clear possession of the puck for 2:49 (61%) of that time. The Golden Knights created a scoring chance nearly identical to the Byfuglien goal, but Nate Schmidt’s shot was saved by Connor Hellebuyck. Shea Theodore had a good chance with traffic in front and Deryk Engelland had a clear lane but waited a bit too long and had his shot blocked. In the same 4:39, Winnipeg had one dangerous chance which came off an unfortunate hop off Engelland’s skate, and another shot from the point that should have been blocked by Theodore. It was saved by Fleury.
That’s when the penalty is called on Alex Tuch. It’s a tough call because Tuch hooks the Jets player due to the fact that his route to the puck was interfered with. It’s either a no-call or a penalty on both, the fact that it goes only on Vegas is a rough break.
Now the Golden Knights have to kill a penalty. For over a minute they put on a penalty killing clinic. During that clinic they forced an easy shot that Fleury opted not to cover so McNabb could clear it out. McNabb was less than an inch away from succeeding in doing so, but instead, it’s kept in, Bellemare is stuck on the ice, and another miscommunication leads to the Patrik Laine goal.
It’s now 2-0, 6:49 into the game and there’s certainly not a domination going on.
:46 later Joel Armia’s goal is waved off by the ref, reviewed by a few bozos in Toronto who seemingly forgot what they had ruled two weeks ago when Jonathan Marchessault won Game 2 against the Sharks, and the Golden Knights are now in a 3-0 hole. That goal was created by a lost puck battle in the corner which was happened in part due to the ref being unable to get out of the way. (To be fair, there was a terrible pinch by Colin Miller which led to a 3-on-1 break in which Fleury made a great save that happened during that :46)
When the puck was finally dropped after about eight minutes of reviews, the Golden Knights jumped all over the Jets, working multiple shots, a few chances, and eventually got on the board with their first goal, 8:10 into the game.
The building was loud, the score was lopsided, and many were probably thinking the same things that were coming out of their TV speakers.
We normally don’t see Vegas try to force plays if they are not there. Marchessault forced it and it turned into a goal on the other end. -Joe Micheletti
It happened once, and it was absolutely not the reason Vegas allowed the goal.
Thus far to start this game, Winnipeg is the quicker team. -Micheletti
Nah, not really, they just happened to have scored the first goal and the crowd is loud. In fact, that goal was scored because Vegas made the quicker play but then goofed up finishing it. Vegas also created the next two scoring chances on quick transition plays.
Boy, Winnipeg, they are just forcing the Vegas players to get rid of the puck as soon as they touch it. -Micheletti
I watched the first 8:10 of the game at least five times and I did not see Vegas turn the puck over a single time due to a Jet forcing them back. Both teams had a forecheck going and both teams were making it difficult to get into the dangerous ice, but neither made a single costly mistake in their own end.
Vegas has a little panic in their game here in the first period. -Micheletti
No question. -Pierre McGuire
Aside from the Theodore gaffe off his skate which Engelland recovered and exited the zone without any harm, I couldn’t find another example of “panic.”
Having been to T-Mobile Arena for every game (but one) this season, and watching road games in Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, Dallas, and Washington during the year, I understand getting swept up in the atmosphere. But I can say, and emphatically, the first eight minutes of Game 1 were NOT dominated by the Winnipeg Jets.
In the end, the only thing that matters is the score, and that was dominated by the Jets, but headlines like “Jets were ‘men versus boys’ in Game 1 against Golden Knights” or “Jets give Golden Knights bitter dose of reality in Game 1” are borderline muckraking.
The real score is 1-0 and the Golden Knights have a chance to grab control of the series by winning tomorrow. There’s an odd dichotomy surrounding the Golden Knights in national media right now where they are expected to win every game but also expected to implode at any minute, and somehow both are supposed to happen at the same time.
In the first 8:10 of Game 1, they made a few mistakes, had a rough penalty call go against them, gave up a power play goal, ended up on the wrong side of another goal review, and yet manage to play fairly well in between all of these events and create more scoring chances than their opponent and the yet the narrative is “Jets defeat sluggish Golden Knights”
Again, I get it, not everyone has a chance to go back and watch the worst eight minutes of the Golden Knights season back over and over again, but c’mon guys, cut the Pacific Division Champs and Western Conference Finalists in their first NHL season at least a bit of slack here.
The score was 3-0, the game ended 4-2, and the series is now 1-0, but that game did not prove that the Golden Knights are the inferior team in this series. They may turn out to be when it’s all said and done, but they also may not, and I’m not sure about everyone else, but I quit doubting the Vegas Golden Knights a LONG time ago. While I’m not going to tell anyone what to say or write, I am going to advise caution, because the Golden Knights are here for a reason and they aren’t going to roll over because of a sequence of events that appeared worse than they really were.
Vegas loses opening draw. Not much happens until Vegas gets offensive zone draw. It’s lost and a somewhat slow forecheck is beaten to allow Winnipeg to exit. Dump in, Schmidt has plenty of time but the pass around the boards is mishandled by Karlsson. Leads to a harmless shot on goal for Winnipeg. Vegas first on the puck, work it out but not deep. Leads to a Vegas line change which starts 4-on-3 rush for the Jets. A great stick check by Schmidt breaks up the play and springs Vegas on a 3-on-2. Marchessault forces a pass that’s intercepted by Wheeler, then Marchessault goes directly off the ice (potential skate issue) as the Jets spring forward. It’s a 2-on-2 with Scheifele and Byfuglien vs. Engelland and Theodore. They drop a pass back and there’s a communication breakdownbetween the Vegas defensemen leaving a wide open shot from the high slot from Byfuglien. Fleury sees it, but doesn’t save it.
Puck goes in deep in the Winnipeg zone off the ensuing faceoff. Vegas’ forecheck is slow and not horribly aggressive. Leads to stretch pass between three Golden Knights to gain easy entry to the zone. Puck rimmed in and Vegas backcheckers are late. Pass in front well defended but a funky hop off Engelland’s stick causes a bit of a scramble. Vegas, with more players in the area, sort it out and eventually clear without a real shot on goal is taken.
Perron then dumps the puck in but can’t reach the Winnipeg defenseman before he’s able to rim the puck around to a forward. The puck is then sent through the neutral zone where the Jets attempt to enter the zone. Sbisa shuts it down easily, hands it to Miller and a line change ensues. A pass from Eakin to Lindberg gets the Golden Knights in the zone, but Tuch jumps ahead of the play and is offside. Ve
Lost draw leads to a Winnipeg entry attempt. It’s easily defended again by Sbisa but the puck squeaks around the back of the net. Winnipeg gets to it and sends it to the point where a shot sails way wide. Lindberg hops on the loose puck and stretches it to Tuch. He is hammered into the curved glass along the benches putting an end to the one man rush. Winnipeg flips it into the neutral zone and eventually in deep as both teams change.
Takes Vegas too chances in the neutral zone but they eventually get the puck in deep on a shot from the red line. Hellebuyck can’t handle it and Vegas works it back in behind the goal. Reaves wins a puck battle and the Golden Knights manage to cycle it along the boards for about 15 seconds before Carpenter can’t control a puck along the boards. No threat but Vegas has solid possession. Armia clears the zone directly to Theodore and Engelland who pass it back and forth, have a slight error off Theodore’s skate, but regather and get it to center ice where Reaves shoots in deep.
Marchessault forechecks behind the goal forcing the puck carrier up the ice. Smith and Karlsson jump on but Marchessault ends up slightly out of position realizing too late that Smith is covering for him. Leads to a blocked shot and eventually a 3-on-2 break for the Golden Knights. Smith drops the puck for a great chance by Schmidt that is saved by a well-positioned Hellebuyck. It’s a nearly identical shot as Byfuglien scored on earlier. The rebound is gathered by Marchessault and he tries to send it around the goal to Smith, it’s intercepted nicely by Trouba.
Winnipeg pushes it up the boards where Karlsson outraces a Jet to the puck in the Golden Knights end. Mutliple stick battles ensue with the puck eventually ending up on the stick of Smith flying out of the zone. Vegas ends up with an easy entry by Smith but outmanned 3-on-2 because Marchessault is changing. Smith and Karlsson do well to work it in and eventually, Karlsson tries a forced pass to the point, it’s blocked and causes Miller to caught up too high. He does well to get a stick on the play to stop a break and get back into position. Winnipeg in possession.
Winnipeg dumps in, Sbisa on to it first with plenty of time but forced back towards his goal. Miller easily first on puck behind the goal but slightly fans on the pass up the boards to Perron. Perron forced all the way down to the red line to try and work it out. Turns and fires it eventually out to the neutral zone with help from Haula. Winnipeg sends it back in where Miller uses a hit to free the puck.
Vegas wins a puck battle, attempt to put it out but Neal forced to play back behind Vegas goal. Excellent north-south pass springs a good entry by Vegas 2nd line. Put in deep, Haula plays the body, Neal comes through to clean up the play and gain possession. Neal works it back in and eventually fires a great pass to the far point to Theodore. Shot blocker is late allowing the shot to go through. Perron has a chance to tip and Lindberg is rushing the net for a tip or a rebound. Excellent chance that’s gloved by Hellebuyck.
Draw won by Lindberg, shoveled in deep by Engelland. Lindberg takes the body, Tuch cleans it up and winds one out to a wide open Engelland at the point. Engelland carries it slightly to the center and has the shot blocked. Engelland should have shot it instantly as a lane was open and a Vegas player was there to screen/tip. Blocked shot collected by Winnipeg. Puck played off the boards and eventually to a Jet rushing into the zone. Vegas has it well covered and Engelland destroys a guy into the boards. Tuch does well to win a puck battle and plays it up but not out as Eakin wasn’t able to get to the boards in time. Puck makes it to the point where a shot gets through a perfectly positioned Theodore. He can’t block it but Fleury kicks it to the high slot. Lindberg the first to the puck lifts one to center ice. Tuch attempting to win on the puck falling from the sky attempts to skate around a player and hooks him becaus Little altered his positioning (another way of saying illegally interfered with). Penalty called on Tuch.
Draw won to open penalty kill, quickly played out of the zone and knocked down by a high stick. Draw lost, puck dumped, well played by Fleury up the boards, instantly shoveled out and all the way down. Bellemare chases the puck and gets to it first while Carpenter changes for Smith. :25 seconds are gone on the PK. Bellemare is bumped off and loses control. Winnipeg pushes it up quickly and enters the zone in the vacated space where Bellemare is trying to get to. Bellemare loses a puck battle and the puck is rimmed around and worked to the point, point to point, then down to the half-wall, skated towards the goal then back to the point where Byfuglien takes a harmless wrister that is easily saved by Fleury. The rebound is controlled well and Fleury decides to play it forward to McNabb rather than covering. McNabb pushes it out as far as possible but Byfuglien keeps it in. Laine shoots one trying to get it deep, it fortunately ricochets off a Jet skate to the point where Byfuglien has tons of time due to Bellemare being on the ice for nearly a minute at this point. Byfuglien brings the puck down into the circle and Bellemare has to watch. Vegas ends up puck-watching as Laine sneaks down from the point to the backdoor. Smith, Bellemare and McNabb are all watching the puck trying to keep it from coming into the low slot while no one sees Laine coming down the ice. Byfuglien waits for Engelland’s stick to come off the ice (he was bodying Stastney out of position) and fires the puck across. It’s a good power play goal, but it was avoidable if Bellemare or Smith recognized that Laine was sneaking down towards the goal.
The draw is quickly sent out of play and a TV timeout is taken. Vegas wins draw out of TV timeout work it deep where the 3rd line eventually loses possession. A bad pinch by Colin Miller creates a 3-on-1 break for Winnipeg. Fleury makes a great glove save on a massive chance.
Clean draw loss sends the puck to the point as Reaves chases hard. Forces puck in deep where Carpenter is first to it. He loses a puck battle (with a little assistance from the ref) and it forces a switch. Theodore goes with Chariot as Carpenter must stay on Armia. Armia jumps inside of Carpenter and into the crease when Chariot wheels the puck in front. The puck goes off Armia’s skate and into the goal. It’s waved off because it was kicked in and because Armia interfered with Fleury. Review says neither happened and the deficit is now three goals.
Vegas loses the ensuing draw, it’s sent into the Golden Knights zone, and eventually they work the puck out without any harm. Miller makes a great play to win a race to a loose puck, gives up his body, and push the play forward for Smith who gains easy entry to the Winnipeg zone. Smith turns and feeds a great pass to Karlsson heading directly towards the net. Karlsson opts to pass rather than shoot and the puck winds up loose. It’s eventually kicked out to the blue line where McNabb has it. He works it to Schmidt who takes a dangerous shot from the point that is saved. Vegas is first on to the puck and a delayed penalty is called as Smith picks it up in the corner. He feeds it around the goal to a wide-open Marchessault who gives it to McNabb pinching down who fires it past Hellebuyck. 3-1, 8:10 elapsed on the clock.