Vegas and Winnipeg: Game 4

Wow, we are already at game 4, a game with major implications with the direction of this series. If Vegas wins, it’s over. 91% series win rate when you have a 3-1 lead (source: I don’t remember I intake a ton of sports info in a day and I don’t write anything down). I swear though, if I hear “proverbial stranglehold” one more time I’ll lose my damn mind.

First period. Tyler Myers slightly interferes with Ryan Carpenter who dives like a soccer player, Myers takes two minutes. Pass comes to Marchessault to the right of Hellebuyck, pass to Karlsson who one times it, but Hellebuyck gets over to stop it. Lots of open passing lanes on this Jets PK, the Knights identify that and go right back to the same play. Tuch is screening Hellebuyck and fakes a tip, that combined with a screen from his own defender Chariot and Karlsson buries the second opportunity. 1-0 Golden Knights.

Sooner thereafter, Scheifele takes a crosscheck to the bridge of the nose from McNabb, breaks the skin even. Scheifele gets called two minutes for – I’m not sure – slashing? I don’t know. Thankfully there was no Vegas goal on this penalty, but it was a garbage call, and Paul Maurice let the officials know it. Later in the period, two Vegas sticks got stuck in Jets legs and no penalty was called. Officiating questionable, bad calls and missed calls. I was just hoping the game wouldn’t be decided buy the black and white jerseys.

Here’s Marky confused as all hell in the penalty box. Slashing, eh? Brad Meier is the name of the official, I believe. Maybe a pal with some record holder Scheifele is chasing? Golf buddies or something? (I’m just kidding)

Early second period, the Jets dump in it and Nate Schmidt does his best Bobby Orr impression going end to end, less the goal you’d expect from the all-time great. Not a game changing play but impressive none-the-less.

At 8:28 of the frame,Tomas Nosek gets called for a soft penalty. He gets his stick in the legs of a Jets defender but it didn’t look like it would have cause the fall it did. On the ensuing power play, Byfuglien to the now-in-attendance Laine, one timer under the arm of an oh-so-close Fleury. Tie game.

51 seconds later, dump in on Hellebuyck that he fails to keep control of, Bellemare is the first man on it, cuts around behind the net and puts it out front and who better than Nosek there to push it in for any redemption he may have needed (also his first ever NHL playoff goal). 2-1 Vegas. They know how to reply in a hurry and Winnipeg needs to figure out a defensive answer.

Jets has a massive power play opportunity a few minutes later. They have a problem though, and his name is Marc-Andre Fleury. Honestly, you could put this guy in a net in the playoffs with no gear and he’d still try and win a game for you. What awards is this guy going to win?

The third period is just Winnipeg pressure. A few shifts in a row of Vegas players hemmed in their own end for so long they are left scrambling for a change. Eventually, Roslovic skates behind the net and passes to Myers who take a half clapper (pause) and Fleury stops it… Or does he? No one knows where it is, Myers had already dropped back to the neutral zone to defend any possible rush when Perrault sees the puck behind the post and declares “IT’S IN” and the referee realizes he’s right and calls the goal. They review, but there’s no question on the replay it was in with no foul, 2-2 tie.

James Neal is rushing down the ice, has a bit of a collision with a Jets defender and goes airborne, almost full speed into Hellebuyck. No goal or injury, so why am I bringing this up? Instantly after the collision you hear James Neal to the netminder, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” A small scrum ensues and when Neal gets loose of it and to one knee he looks at Hellebuyck and asks again “are you okay? I’m sorry.” That’s some great sportsmanship that deserves to be recognized.

So the Jets let up the pressure a bit, the teams exchanged some rushes. Tanev rolls behind the net and passes it back to Byfuglien who fans on the shot, Reilly Smith, the Panthers greatest mistake, speeds down on a partial break and snipes over Hellebuyck’s blocker. A beautifully placed shot taken at the right time without breaking a stride, 3-2 Vegas.

This was the point of the game I texted Trev “honestly, I think it’s over. That goal might have won the game and the series.” Just creating some accountability in my predictions.

This arena started to get loud with about two and a half minutes left. Hellebuyck went to the bench with 1:29 which I thought was a little late but for the minute prior the Jets just couldn’t get it deep. 1:13, Jets call a timeout to get the Scheifele line rested. The Golden Knights ice the puck with 34.9 seconds left.

With 12 seconds left, Byfuglien makes a mistake, he thinks there is an icing call but there isn’t and he dogs it. Maybe the volume of the arena played into it but it reduced the last chance of the Jets to nil. 3-2 win for Vegas. 3-1 series lead and back to the Peg for game 5.

The support and love the Golden Knights are getting awes me every game I see played at T-Mobile Arena. I hope this isn’t a one-off and this continues for years to come. If they keep playing like this, I’ll keep watching.

– Bob Zagozewski

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