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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 WINNIPEG JETS 2 (VGK 3-1)

Recap: The Golden Knights were looking to take a 3-1 series lead with a Game 4 win in Winnipeg. The Jets opened the scoring early into the first period but Vegas settled in and tied the game four minutes later. Brett Howden registered his first goal of the postseason tying the game at one.

Vegas’ offense really picked up in the middle frame. William Karlsson broke the tie with his third goal of the series and Ivan Barbashev extended Vegas’ lead less than a minute later. After 40 minutes the Golden Knights held a 3-1 advantage.

Winnipeg got within one early in the period with a power play goal. The Golden Knights fought off a late push from the Jets and sealed the game with an empty-net goal.

The Golden Knights take a commanding 3-1 defeating the Jets 4-2 in Game 4. VGK will have a chance to clinch the series on Thursday night from T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop for Game 5 is scheduled for 7 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: Early in the game the Jets got a breakaway chance, Mark Scheifele came in on Laurent Brossoit, and the goalie stoned him, then Scheifele went flying into the boards. It ended his night and it foreshadowed the rest of the game. VGK didn’t play the best game, but when they Jets had chances, Brossoit was there to shut them down (wacky power play goal aside), when VGK got chances, they buried them. It’s a 3-1 series lead with Scheifele, Morrissey, and Ehlers all out, the Golden Knights have one foot in the 2nd round. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets Game 4 at Canada Life Centre.

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Penalty Drawn Before OT Changed Tenor Of Locker Room During Crucial Intermission

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

When the Golden Knights walked off the ice at the end of regulation, they had to be in disbelief. Vegas had not surrendered a three-goal deficit at any time this season, and they had won 34 of 37 games in which they held a lead at the start of the 3rd period.

Yet here they were, headed back to the locker room with 18 minutes to prepare for an overtime period knowing if they don’t score next, it’ll go down as one of the worst losses in franchise history.

At that moment, there’s shouldn’t have been much positive to draw on. They’d blown a massive lead and turned what was a subdued environment into the most hostile one they’d played in for years. However, they did have something to hang their hats on, which offered a sense of calm and belief.

After the Jets scored to miraculously tie the game with 21.9 seconds left, captain Mark Stone, Jack Eichel, and Chandler Stephenson hopped over the boards looking to make something happen in the short time they had left. Stephenson won the draw, Eichel moved it back to Shea Theodore who stretched it into the zone back to Stephenson. He carried the puck with a purpose below the goal line and sent a centering pass to Stone. Brenden Dillon blocked the pass, but Stone kept working towards it and was hauled down by Pierre-Luc Dubois. Penalty!

I know the power play hasn’t been good but we had two tonight and we were feeling good about it. The message was that we have the power play and almost a full two minutes of one with good ice. Obviously we didn’t get it done but it was definitely something that we were able to look forward to and allowed us to get right back to pushing. -Chandler Stephenson

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 WINNIPEG JETS 4 (VGK 2-1) – OT

Recap: The Golden Knights were looking to take a 2-1 series lead with a win against the Jets in Winnipeg. Chandler Stephenson got Vegas going right out of the gate with his second goal of the series. Minutes later Jack Eichel doubled the Golden Knights first period lead to 2-0. The Jets scored to get within one but the Golden Knights held a 2-1 advantage going into the first intermission.

Midway through the 2nd period Eichel scored his second power play goal of the game. Later in the period, Keegan Kolesar stretched VGK’s lead to 4-1.

Winnipeg scored quickly into the final frame to give themselves life. Phil Kessel committed a late-period penalty allowing the Jets to get closer on the power play. The home team took advantage to get within one. With their goalie pulled, the Jets fought to the last minute and forced overtime with a late game-tying goal.

In double overtime, the Golden Knights jumped on a fortunate bounce and Michael Amdio shot in the game-winner to win 5-4.

The Golden Knights hold on to win Game 3 in Winnipeg and now lead the quarterfinal series 2-1. The two teams will battle it out on Monday night for Game 4. Puck drop from Winnipeg is scheduled for 6:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The game started out a lot like the end of the previous one with the neutral zone wide open and Vegas zipping out of their own zone and in on goal. They converted an early one and then got a fortunate play on the power play to grab control of the game. Then, things went off the rails a little bit as the Jets stormed back into the game with three goals on different strengths. A late power play really helped to settle things down before the OT. VGK did what they wanted to do coming into the series in OT, create turnovers on the forecheck. Plan E with the amazing shot on the game winner. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets Game 3 at Canada Life Centre.

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One Major Momentum Swing Has The Series Tied

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

For the first four periods of the series, the Golden Knights looked like they were trying to catch up with the Winnipeg Jets. Vegas generated just 26 shots in the first 80 minutes of action, mainly because of their inability to consistently possess the puck in the offensive zone.

Then, it was almost like a switch was flipped. In the 2nd period, Vegas came alive, scoring two goals, putting 19 shots on Connor Hellebuyck, and flying around the ice at a speed the Jets hadn’t seen to that point in the series.

The Golden Knights continued that success into the 3rd period where they broke the game open and eventually took home a crucial victory to even the series.

That’s playoff hockey, the momentum swings. -Bruce Cassidy

Typically, playoff series tend to see plenty of swings like this over the course of each individual game. Two games into this series, we’ve seen just one swing, a massive one from the Jets looking like far and away the better team to suddenly Vegas exerting their dominance and looking like the #1 seed.

The term momentum does a lot of heavy lifting in the hockey world as somewhat of a catchall to explain why things go from good to bad or vise versa in a hurry. What it doesn’t do is actually explain what changed in the way the teams are playing that caused it to happen.

Clearly, the momentum of the series did shift in favor of the Golden Knights. But why?

For us a lot of times it’s puck management. In the 1st period on the 2nd shift of the game we give their best line opportunity after opportunity, we get the huge saves but it just gives them life. So we got that corrected. If you look at the scoresheet, our top guys are all over the sheet tonight, their guys were all over the sheet the other night in Game 1. -Bruce Cassidy

Cassidy also pointed to the first goal of the game that energized the crowd and seemed to wake up the Golden Kights.

Maybe the other team feels a little pressure to be cleaner and all of a sudden we’re on top of them. -Cassidy

On the other bench, they felt the shift in the game was mostly self-inflicted.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 WINNIPEG JETS 2 (SERIES 1-1)

Recap: The Golden Knights looked to tie up their seven-game series with a win over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 2. Both teams were awarded early power play opportunities but only Winnipeg cashed in. The Jets deflected one by Vegas goaltender Laurent Brossoit to open up the scoring midway through the period. The final five minutes were full of after whistle scrums which resulted in nine penalties handed out in the opening 20 minutes.

William Karlsson evened the score 1-1 six minutes into the period with his second goal of the postseason. Moments later Jack Eichel deflected in the tie-breaking goal to record his first career playoff goal. The Jets tied the game late in the middle frame, taking a 2-2 tie into the second intermission.

The Golden Knights began to heat up at the right time. Quickly into the final period Chandler Stephenson poked in a loose rebound to snap the tie and later captain Mark Stone extended Vegas’ lead. It was Stone’s first goal of the postseason and his first since January 5th. The captain scored four minutes later to widen VGK’s advantage to 5-2.

The Golden Knights even the series with their 5-2 Game 2 victory over the Jets. The series shifts to Winnipeg and will resume on Saturday afternoon. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It took another period of malaise before the Golden Knights really got going in this series. After a bundle of penalties for both teams, Vegas came alive in the 2nd. Their speed started to push the Jets back further into the zone and that led to much easier entries and much more zone time. From there, it took a massive scoop and score from Karlsson to get VGK on the board and then they started rolling. Winnipeg didn’t go away, but they certainly looked much more impotent tonight than in Game 1. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs Winnipeg Jets Game 2 at T-Mobile Arena

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Examining The Line Matchups VGK Preferred In Game 1

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

With Mark Stone back in the lineup, the Golden Knights had to do a bit of line shuffling to begin their opening-round series with the Winnipeg Jets. The captain found his way back onto the right wing of Chandler Stephenson, while Jack Eichel stayed with Jonathan Marchessault and Ivan Barbashev, and Phil Kessel was placed with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith.

It was meant to be a well-balanced lineup focused around three pairs that have played together for extended stretches.

There’s a few moving parts because of Mark Stone’s recovery and we all knew that may or may not happen. It is happening now so we’re going to try to make the pieces fit around it if he’s available to us. -Bruce Cassidy

About halfway through the game, Cassidy opted to shift some players around to try and inject some offense into what had been a fairly listless performance to that point from the Golden Knights.

He started with

Barbashev-Eichel-Marchessault
Smith-Karlsson-Kessel
Amadio-Stephenson-Stone
Howden-Roy-Kolesar

Then switched to

Stephenson-Eichel-Stone
Smith-Karlsson-Marchessault
Barcashev-Roy-Kessel
Amadio-Howden-Kolesar

That came with a significant boost in minuted to each of the top six while the remaining group filled in the gaps.

With Game 1 in the books, Cassidy has elected to return to the lineup he began the series with, hoping for more success the second time around.

Looking back at usage, there were a few matchups Cassidy seemed to prefer when he had the opportunity with last change. First, he typically turned to Stephenson, Stone, and Amadio when the opposing 1st line would hit the ice. It didn’t take long for the Golden Knights’ head coach to show his hand with that matchup, going to it just 37 seconds into the game on the first defensive zone draw. He then went back to it three more times in the 1st period including twice in the defensive zone.

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VGK Forecheck Failed In Game 1

(Photo Credit: Ken Boehlke, SinBin.vegas)

Before the series even began, the Winnipeg Jets head coach detailed one of the most important aspects of the game for the Golden Knights.

Play as fast we can. To do that, your D have to get back, your forwards have to get back and help out, make that first outlet pass. Don’t be looking for second or third options, you have to make that first option and go. -Rick Bowness, Jets coach

To start the game, the Golden Knights were all over the Jets on the forecheck, forcing critical turnovers that could have led to the game’s first goal. Vegas’ forwards pressured the puck deep in the offensive zone and Winnipeg’s reads were not fast nor correct.

Here are two examples from the first four minutes of action.

Roy throws the puck into a good area where the goalie cannot go back and retrieve it and then gets on his horse to go pressure it. The key is the challenge on the second pass from Kolesar. He flies into the zone to push the second defender off of the play, leaving the puck available for Roy to move it to Howden for a Grade A+ chance.

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