Michael Finewax

Hockey Daily Dose

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Dose: Jets Draw First Blood

Sunday, May 13, 2018


In a battle of two franchises that had never won a playoff game between them before the start of the 2018 NHL post-season, the Winnipeg Jets scored early and often and won Game 1 of the best-of-seven Western Conference Finals 4-2 over the upstart Vegas Golden Knights.

 

Dustin Byfuglien, the leading rearguard scorer in the post-season, increased his lead as he scored his fifth of the playoffs at the 1:05 mark of the first as he blasted a one-timer off a drop pass from Mark Scheifele to get the Winnipeg crowd going wild and give the Jets a 1-0 lead.

 

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The Jets made it 2-0 as the one-timer seemed to be the story of the early going. Patrik Laine scored on the power play at 6:49 as he one-timed a Blake Wheeler cross-ice pass into the yawning cage past Marc-Andre Fleury.

 

Just 46 seconds later, the Jets made it 3-0 as Joel Armia scored his second of the playoffs as his skate re-directed a Ben Chiarot shot into the net. It was immediately waved off by the referee but Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice challenged and the higher ups in Toronto ruled it was a good goal.

 

The Golden Knights started off very flat on Saturday night but scored before the end of the period to cut the lead to 3-1 as Brayden McNabb wristed home a shot from the top of the faceoff circle, on a pass from Jonathan Marchessault, and beat Connor Hellebuyck.

The Jets made it 4-1 in the second as they scored their second power play goal of the game. Scheifele deflected a Byfuglien shot from the point to score his third goal at home during the playoffs (he has an unbelievable nine on the road).

 

The Golden Knights once again cut the lead to two as William Karlsson, their leading scorer in the regular season with 43 goals and now as well in the post-season with five, scored on the power play.

 

It was 4-2 heading into the third and the Jets just shut down the Golden Knights, much like they did in the first two periods. The Golden Knights managed only six, seven and eight shots in each of the three periods as Hellebuyck needed to make only 19 saves on the 21 shots for his ninth victory in the playoffs.

 

Vegas has not been getting great goaltending from Fleury of late. He did have a 28 save shutout in the clinching Game 6 against San Jose in the second round but has given up at least three goals in each of the other five games since Game 2 against the Sharks. He has given up 18 goals abut some cracks are beginning to be seen. He stopped 22-of-26 shots Saturday night.

 

Winnipeg's stars were the show in Game 1 as Scheifele and Byfuglien each had a goal and an assist while Wheeler chipped in with three assists. Scheifele and Wheeler are tied for fourth in NHL scoring with 18 points apiece, and trail the Penguins Jake Guentzel and Sidney Crosby, as well as David Pastrnak for the playoff scoring lead. Since Guentzel, Crosby and Pastrnak have been eliminated from the playoffs, Scheifele and Wheeler are in a prime spot to quickly move to the top of the standings.

 

Byfuglien leads all blueliners with 15 points, three ahead of the Capitals John Carlson.

 

Marchessault also had a pair of assists for Vegas, albeit in a loss. He leads the Golden Knights in points with 13.

 

The Jets were 2-4 on the power play while Vegas was 1-2.

 

Reilly Smith and Armia led their respective teams with five shots on goal each.  Brandon Tanev had six hits while Laine had five.

 

 Nikolaj Ehlers had three shots on goal but still has not scored in the playoffs after scoring 29 in the regular season.



Michael Finewax is entering his 13th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
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