Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists and Adam Lowry scored twice in the final minutes to lead the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist, Kyle Connor also scored a goal and Nino Niederreiter added two assists for Winnipeg as the best-of-seven series got underway.
The Jets held Vegas to just two third-period shots on goal and 17 for the game, a Golden Knights record for fewest in a playoff game. Connor Hellebuyck finished with 16 saves for his 17th career playoff win.
William Karlsson scored for Vegas, which earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference with 111 points, having swept the three-game regular-season series with the Jets. Laurent Brossoit, making his first career playoff start, stopped 26 of 30 shots.
After a scoreless opening period that saw Winnipeg outshoot the Golden Knights 14-8, the Jets jumped out to a 2-0 lead with two goals on consecutive shots in a 62-second span early in the second period.
Connor got the first with a one-timer in the high slot off a pass from Dubois at 1:24. He put the puck past Brossoit’s blocker side for his 10th career playoff goal.
Dubois, taking advantage of a Vegas line change, then made it 2-0 when he scooped up a loose puck in the neutral zone and rushed down the left wing. He snapped a wrist shot from the middle of the left circle inside the near top corner of the net.
With his team managing just 11 shots through the first 32 minutes of action, Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy began juggling his lines, and the Golden Knights cut the lead to 2-1 at 15:49 of the second.
Ivan Barbashev found Karlsson cutting down the slot, and Karlsson fired a wrist shot over Hellebuyck’s glove and into the top far corner of the net for his 20th career playoff goal.
Wheeler, who scored just one goal in the final 27 games of the regular season, put Winnipeg back ahead by two goals at 3:53 of the third period. His spinning backhand shot from the slot went through Brossoit’s pads for his ninth career playoff goal.
Lowry sealed the win with an empty-netter with 1:21 to go, then added a power-play goal with 18.3 seconds remaining.
Winnipeg center Morgan Barron sustained a skate cut to the face during a goalmouth scramble in the first period. The injury required over 75 stitches to close, but Barron returned to play in the second period and finished with five hits and three shots on goal in 10:44 of ice time.
Game 2 is Thursday night in Las Vegas.
–Field Level Media