Golden Knights have Jets on brink of elimination

The Vegas Golden Knights can eliminate the Winnipeg Jets with a win Thursday night.

LAS VEGAS — Of all the series in the NHL Playoffs, the Vegas Golden Knights have the second-best chance of advancing to the second round according to Moneypuck.com.

The Golden Knights, who are ahead 3-1 in the series, have an 88.3% probability of getting past the Winnipeg Jets per the analytical site.

The teams meet Thursday night in Game 5 on Vegas’ home ice.

And Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy knows his troops can’t afford to look ahead.

The six-year-old franchise has held a 3-1 series lead five times. Two of those series ended in five games while the other three were stretched to a winner-take-all seventh game.

“They know what’s at stake,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said after practice Wednesday. “Doesn’t mean you’re gonna win, just because you recognize that you want to get the last one. They’ve got some proud people over there too, good hockey players and the games have been close.”

Sort of.

Games 3 and 4 in Winnipeg, both won by the Knights, were relatively close.

But the first two games in Vegas were both one-sided, with the Jets dominating a lackluster group of Knights in the series opener. Vegas came alive to skate past the Jets in Game 2.

And considering the way the Jets played in the first period of both games at T-Mobile Arena, Cassidy knows the importance of building off the Knights’ defensive effort in Winnipeg.

“We got a game to play, we have to keep building our game,” Cassidy said. “I thought the defensive part of our game in Game 4 was excellent in terms of what we gave up. We gotta keep building that part of our game, especially when they subtract a few of their difference-makers on offense, it makes it harder for them to score typically.”

That’s certainly been the case, especially in high-danger situations.

Both teams have had 33 high-danger chances in the series, but the Golden Knights have the edge in actual high-danger goals scored, 8-3.

Cassidy said the key for his Knights is to take advantage of the injury-plagued Jets by putting them on their heels with immediacy and come out with the same sense of urgency he knows Winnipeg will play with considering it’s on the brink of elimination.

The Jets will miss top blueliner Josh Morrissey, who is out the remainder of the series with a lower-body injury. Center Mark Scheifele is questionable after suffering an upper-body injury in Game 4.

“We got a veteran group in there, they know what’s at stake,” Cassidy said. “We’re not sort of thinking ahead at all. I’m expecting (the Jets) to put their best foot forward.”