It didn’t take long last night for the Winnipeg Jets to make their presence known to the Golden Knights when Dustin Byfuglien scored after he and Scheifele went on a rush to give the Jets a 1-0 lead just over a minute into the first period.
The air seemed different last night, and it was only six minutes later that Blake Wheeler sent a pass across the front of the net to Patrik Laine, who was left alone and sent a blistering shot past Fleury to make it 2-0.
William Karlsson and Brayden McNabb both scored for the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury made 22 saves for the night, and Hellebuyck had 19.
After the Winnipeg Jets took Game 7 against the Nashville Predators, hopes are high for Jet fans for their team to make it to the Stanley Cup finals, and if last night is any indication, they might make it.
A thunderous crowd of over 15,000 were on hand in a sea of white at the Bell MTS Place area last night to cheer on the Jets, and that doesn’t include the thousands outside on the streets joining in the excitement.
The Jets and Knights will play Game 2 in Winnipeg on Monday and then head to Las Vegas for Game 3 and Game 4. The Jets had had a solid performance on the road in the playoffs going 5-1. They went up 2-0 on a power play when Dustin Byfuglien managed to keep the puck in the Knights zone.
Picked up by Wheeler, he snuck the puck through the crowd in front of the net to Laine who earned his fourth goal in the post-season after blistering shot sent the puck into the net past Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury, who has four shutouts in the playoffs this season, had his hands full in the first period. After the Jets scored twice in their first five shots on goal, he managed to deny Bryan Little during a 3-on-1 rush and was able to do little when the puck ricocheted off the skate of Joel Armia skate after a shot from Winnipeg’s Ben Chiarot to make it 3-1, all this in the first period.
The goal created controversy after the official waved it off only to see it go to the video replay when challenged by Winnipeg. After reviewing the play, it was determined that the puck was not kicked in and that there was no goalie interference as the puck had crossed the crease before contact was made with Fleury.
The Golden Knights, who were well-rested after a five day break after defeating the Sharks in Game 6 of the second round, scored their first goal less than a minute later to close the gap to 3-1.
As the game heated up, in part due to frustrations by the Knights, Ryan Reeves sent Blake Wheeler into the Knights bench after a dangerous hit.
As the second period got underway, it seemed the Golden Knights had found their mojo and pushed hard but with the Jets pushing just as hard, the Knights were unable to stop Kitchener, Ontario’s Mark Scheifele as the Jets went on a power play and Scheifele tipped the puck into the net after picking up a shot from Dustin Byfuglien to make it 4-1.
The Knights respond with 4:05 left in the second and with a 4-on-2 advantage, Jonathon Marchessault sent the puck to William Karlsson, who scored his fifth in the post-season to make it 4-2.
That was as close the Golden Knights got last night with the third period producing no goals for either team.
#NHLJets opened the Western Conference Final with a huge W last night… check out the photos!
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) May 13, 2018
This is the first time the Winnipeg Jets have made it to the Conference finals in the history of the franchise. They defeated the Minnesota Wild in the first round and the Predators in the second round. The Jets earned 114 points during the regular season.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the storybook of the league making it to the conference finals in their first season after they beat the Los Angeles Kings in the first round and the Sharks in the second. The Knights earned 109 points during the regular season.
Either way, you look at it, the battle ahead for both teams will be intense, but for most analysts, the Jets are favoured slightly ahead to win and go to the Stanley Cup finals.