EditorsNote: adds quotes
Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves to lead the visiting Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday, leveling the Western Conference finals at one game apiece.
Tomas Tatar scored a goal and Reilly Smith added two assists for Vegas. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series will be played Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Definitely excited about our effort tonight,” Marchessault said. “Every time we need a big game out of our group, we show up. And tonight we definitely showed up. I think we showed the hockey world that we earned the right to be here and worthy to play against a great team.”
It was the 71st career playoff victory for Fleury in his 125th playoff start, moving him into a tie with Jacques Plante for ninth place on the all-time postseason wins list.
Kyle Connor scored for Winnipeg, which lost for the third time in its past four home playoff games. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 25 shots for the Jets.
“We were chasing the game again, down two goals, made it tough,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “We just couldn’t get any momentum going.”
Winnipeg, which jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first 7:35 of a 4-2 victory in Game 1, peppered Fleury early but was unable to get one past the Vegas netminder.
“We didn’t feel we started poorly at all,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said. “We liked the way we started. We didn’t do a whole lot of clean things with the puck. But they were good. They were on the puck and didn’t make it easy.”
The Golden Knights then dominated the final seven minutes of the opening period, scoring two goals less than four minutes apart and hitting the post on two more tries.
Tatar, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline but a frequent scratch near the end of the season after scoring just six points and amassing a minus-11 in 20 games, scored his first goal in five playoff games to give Vegas a 1-0 lead at 13:23. He tucked in his own rebound from the right side of the net.
Tatar had been scratched from the previous three playoff games before returning to action Monday.
Marchessault made it 2-0 at the 17:22 mark, taking a pass from Smith at the blue line and then breaking in and beating Hellebuyck through the pads with a backhand. Erik Haula and Ryan Carpenter then both hit the post in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the period.
Connor cut it to 2-1 with 12:43 left in the third period on a power-play goal, sneaking a bad-angle wrist shot from the left side of the net off Fleury’s arm and into the net.
Marchessault answered with his second goal of the game just 88 seconds later, finishing a two-on-one with Smith with a backhand shot past Hellebuyck’s stick side.
“Marchy was real good tonight, he scored two big goals,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “I thought all our team did their job tonight. Everybody played their role tonight. Obviously that top line, when they get going and they make some plays and they’ve got some time and space like they did, they scored a couple of beautiful goals. They were really good, and they were strong defensively also.”
Winnipeg pulled Hellebuyck with a little over two minutes remaining but managed just one shot on goal.
—Field Level Media