Golden Knights needed top prove to themselves they could compete with Jets


Ideally for the Golden Knights, tonight's Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals against the Winnipeg Jets will go a lot like Saturday's Game 1 - only in reverse.

While this intro has plenty of elements - including a flaming archer eliminating Western Conference teams one by one - the headliner is the literal golden knight slicing an ice projection of an actual jet in half before it crashes and burns in a flaming wreck.

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Now with the series shifted back to Vegas and home-ice advantage established, the Golden Knights believe they can establish control versus Winnipeg and use a two-game stretch in their own barn to close in on a Stanley Cup Final berth in their expansion season. Marchessault made it 2-0 with 2:38 remaining in the first period, coming after Tomas Tatar scored his first goal of the postseason four minutes earlier. Marchessault restored the two-goal lead 1:28 later.

James Neal and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 33 shots. Connor Hellebuyck has given up 35 goals on 450 shots faced and Steve Mason has allowed zero goals on seven shots. Alex Tuch added another a few minutes later, and the Golden Knights suddenly had a commanding 3-1 advantage. The team has defied the odds since the opening game of the season, and bookies are having a hard time finding anyone to bet against them now. With his two goals, Scheifele now owns the National Hockey League record for most goals scored on the road in a single playoffs with 11, surpassing Sidney Crosby and Joe Mullen, each with 10. Las Vegas left winger William Carrier (upper body) remains questionable, while defenseman Clayton Stoner (abdominal) has been out since October.

"We'll be ready to bounce back", veteran Jets centre Paul Stastny said after the loss.

It's the first time all postseason the Jets have lost back-to-back games or been behind in a series. It was Scheifele's 13th goal of the playoffs, but the momentum from it didn't last long, and Hellebuyck's brilliance didn't sustain, either. If both these teams perform at the same level this game could be a barn burner. Las Vegas is 14-2 in its last 16 games versus teams with a winning road record. That total diminished to 10 blocks in game 2, as the Golden Knights emphasized finding cleaner looks.

"I don't think anyone saw us here", said Marc Andre Fleury, the three-time Stanley Cup victor who was left unprotected in the expansion draft by Pittsburgh.