Three takeaways from the Golden Knights’ 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Friday:
1. Early jump.
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant wanted to see his team get off to a fast start and reverse a trend that saw opposing teams score first in 10 of the Knights’ first 15 games.
He got his wish, as the Knights opened a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from Luca Sbisa and David Perron.
Winnipeg had scored first in its six prior games (4-0-2).
“I thought, again, when we play a real good game and we forecheck, we’re a quick team,” Gallant said. “We try and cause lots of turnovers in the offensive zone. I thought the guys did a good job. I thought we played one of our best games of the year, for sure.
“I thought we played fast, we played hard and we had a lot of energy out there. Again, we played against a real good team and they made some mistakes. I thought we capitalized on our chances.”
2. Top line silent.
The Jets feature one of the hottest lines in the league with Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor. Wheeler was coming off a four-assist game Monday in Dallas.
Here is their final stat lines while matched up against the Knights’ top defensive pair of Sbisa and Nate Schmidt:
Wheeler — 0 points, 1 shot, 1 hit, 1 giveaway, 1 takeaway, minus-4 rating in 18:13 of ice time.
Scheifele — 1 assist*, 2 shots, 3 hits, minus-3 in 19:47 of ice time.
Connor — 0 points, 2 penalty minutes, 1 hit, 1 blocked shot, 1 takeaway, minus-4 in 15:14 of ice time.
(*Scheifele’s assist was actually a faceoff win that helped set up Patrik Laine’s power-play blast in the second period.)
Instead, it was Laine, the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft, who proved tough to contain for the Knights.
“I think just the way they play, their forecheck is really tough to break,” Wheeler said. “We had a really tough time getting out of our zone tonight. They are great at getting above the puck, and you know even when we made a clean pass up to the wings or the center there just wasn’t a whole lot of space to make play.
“You have got to give them a lot of credit. We made a lot of mistakes that cost us, gave them a little bit too much space, and at the end of the day, it was just one of those nights.”
3. Vegas Strong.
Deryk Engelland, Norris Trophy candidate?
The Knights defenseman forged a nine-year career in the NHL mostly through grit and a willingness to drop the gloves. In other words, Engelland will never be mistaken for Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.
But the Las Vegas resident has more points (9) than penalty minutes (6) this season.
Engelland had two assists against Winnipeg, including a sweet drop pass for David Perron in the first period after Engelland jumped into the play to create a 4-on-3 rush.
Engelland has two goals and seven assists in 16 games. His career high for points in a season is 17 (four goals, 13 assists) with Pittsburgh in 2011-12.