Game 2 started out frantic. Back and forth action forced goalies in both nets to be at their best to keep the game tied. The Winnipeg crowd was buzzing and the Golden Knights appeared destined to be headed for the same fate as Game 1 if any puck slipped past Fleury.
Luckily, unlike in Game 1 when the second shot he saw beat him from 40+ feet out, Fleury was able to turn away every early chance, including one that snuck under him and was cleared off the line by Nate Schmidt. The game was playing into the hands of the home team, again. Even though the Golden Knights were getting chances, the building was ready to explode and the game was ready to snowball like it did Saturday night.
We didn’t feel like it started poorly at all. We liked our start. -Paul Maurice, Jets head coach
Then, the tide turned a bit. The Golden Knights spoke about getting through the first 10 minutes. They did, but it wasn’t exactly pretty. However, once it got there, things changed and remained the new way for the next 30 minutes. 30 minutes that not only won Game 2, but got the series under control for the Golden Knights, and now have the Jets on their heels heading to T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday.
The Golden Knights first goal came 13:23 into the 1st. That goal shut the crowd down, but the rest of the 1st and the entire 2nd refused to let them, or the Jets, back in it.
From the 11 minute mark of the 1st period to the dying seconds of the 2nd, the Golden Knights dictated the game. In the final 10 minutes of the 1st, Winnipeg attempted just two shots and neither made it to Fleury. In the 2nd, Vegas came out quick and instantly drew a penalty. Then, aside from one great chance that hit the post, every time Winnipeg had the puck they couldn’t create anything truly dangerous. In the 2nd period, they attempted 24 shots but just eight got through. They entered the zone rather easily, cycled the puck at will, and took many shots, but hardly ever were able to get to the puck where they truly wanted it.
The Golden Knights defense kept everything to the outside, they never allowed a moment in which there was not a player between the puck and the goalie, and they forced the Jets into shots they didn’t want to be taking. Advanced stats will tell you Winnipeg had a big period offensively, but watching the game and especially listening to the crowd tells a much different story.
In part you have to give them credit, they had real good sticks on the puck. We didn’t do a whole lot of clean things with the puck because they were good, they were on the puck, and they didn’t make it easy. We didn’t do anything clean, we didn’t do anything quickly. -Maurice
Every time the Jets got in close, Vegas threw everything they had in the way of shots. They blocked six and caused many others in close to be shot wide of the net in the 2nd period alone. It was an endless display of taking away dangerous ice and the result was taking the Jets and their fans out of the game.
Obviously you feel like you didn’t (get enough chances) because you only score one goal and it was a power play goal. There wasn’t a whole lot either way, a playoff type game. -Blake Wheeler, Jets Captain
We’re used to the whiteout crowd in Winnipeg being loud, rowdy, and nonstop, but for a 30-minute stretch, they looked perplexed as they sat on their hands nearly silent. Their Jets had the puck, they were in the Golden Knights zone, they just couldn’t get anything near the goal. Winnipeg mustered up only eight shots on goal over that stretch and none truly challenged Fleury.
The game remained 2-0 for nearly 36 minutes of game time and when Winnipeg finally got on the board and got their fans going, the Golden Knights first line sprung into action and did their part in taking the 15,321 white clad maniacs right back out of the game.
It wasn’t a perfect game, or really anything close for the Golden Knights, but it was a road playoff game in a hostile environment. They withstood the initial push, got their lead, and did what they had to do to keep the game, and the crowd, under control for as long as they could. In Game 2, it was long enough. Now it’s up to the Jets to figure out how they’re going to do the same on Wednesday and Friday. That’s easier said than done though, and if you don’t believe me, read the articles that followed Game 1.