Marchessault scores twice as Knights even West finals

Feisty Marchessault wills Golden Knights to crucial win in Winnipeg

Tomas Tatar and Jonathan Marchessault scored twice for the Golden Knights late in the first period to jumpstart the visitors to a 3-1 victory that tied the Western Conference final series heading into Game 3 in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

"They weren't good enough last game", Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant said.

"We just played hard right off the bat and were able to get that two-goal lead".

Conversely, the Jets are 1-4 when surrendering the opening goal in the playoffs, 1-4 when down after the first period and 0-5 when behind after 40 minutes. The finish from Jonathan Marchessault, who scored two goals in the game, was sublime, too.

Tatar took Ryan Carpenter's pass at the side of Connor Hellebuyck's net and fired a shot off the post, before quickly gathering the rebound and tucking it behind the Jets goaltender to give the Golden Knights the lead.

To extend the lead, the Jets were caught on a bad line change and Kyle Connor lost control of the puck in the neutral zone, which allowed Marchessault to walk in alone on a breakaway and he beat Connor Hellebuyck through the five-hole.

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"We know that their crowd is going to be excited", Jets forward Paul Stastny said. Given a second power play chance minutes later, the Jets would finally crack the scoreboard on a bad angle shot from Kyle Connor. The Jets banged pucks off the posts and the crossbar, and the cornerstone of the NHL's newest franchise ignored the chants that followed from Winnipeg's boisterous crowd, finishing with 30 saves.

The Jets' lone goal was only the third time in 14 playoff games they've been held to one goal or less.

Winnipeg pulled Hellebuyck with a little over two minutes remaining but managed just one shot on goal. Their title hopes rest largely on Fleury-with the third-best goals-against average (1.74) in the playoffs-and the defensive lines. Reilly Smith had a pair of assists. "Whether he's on (the power play) or not, I think he does a great job of getting open and he's been in that place throughout the year and he has done a good job of putting the puck in the net".

Winnipeg's Mark Scheifele, who has postseason-high 12 goals, got the puck past Fleury in the opening moments of the game and Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt cleared it from the crease. They matched the pace, but only for a while. "I don't think there's going to be as much offence going both ways. We played really well with that lead", Marchessault said. They're a good team.

The Jets had another strong start to the game, but the Golden Knights scored back to back goals to end the first period and the Jets just couldn't get the momentum back from a much better looking Golden Knights squad.

The Saskatchewan connections are all there for all four teams and they are all quality hockey teams. "Sometimes the bounces are going to go their way, sometimes they're going to go our way". To win it and advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time ever, the Jets will have to get it done on the road, just as they did last round against the Nashville Predators.

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