WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Marc-Andre Fleury scraped the ice with his goalie paddle and constructed a pile of snow in front of his net before being pulled for an extra attacker late in the third period.
Fleury’s miniature barricade drew a few laughs on the Golden Knights bench after he was admonished by referee Gord Dwyer. But it was no match for the wall standing at the other end of the rink.
Winnipeg backup goaltender Laurent Brossoit finished with 43 saves as the Knights fell 4-1 to the Jets on Tuesday in an entertaining encounter at Bell MTS Place.
“We come in here and played a good team on the road and I thought we were the better team for most of the game,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “They found a way to win, and their goalie was great.”
Brandon Pirri had the lone goal early in the third period for the Knights, who committed two costly mistakes and were let down by their special teams in losing for the second time in their past 10 games.
The Knights went 0-for-6 with the man advantage, including a 5-on-3 power play for 50 seconds late in the second, and also allowed their first short-handed goal of the season.
“We had our opportunities,” left wing Max Pacioretty said. “Power play had to be better to give us a chance, and we weren’t able to execute. The chances were there to score goals to get back in the game, and we just weren’t able to execute.”
Kyle Connor scored twice for Winnipeg, including an empty-net goal with 1:13 remaining, and Matthew Perreault also scored in the second period.
Mark Scheifele added an empty-netter with 5.2 seconds left.
This was the first meeting between the teams since the Western Conference Final won by the Knights in five games, and it didn’t disappoint an announced crowd of 15,321.
After a tentative start with both teams waiting for the other to make a move like middle schoolers at a dance, Brossoit was the difference in the second period.
The Knights set a franchise record for shots on goal in a period with 26, breaking the previous mark of 21, but were unable to bury any of those chances.
Brossoit, who started ahead of Connor Hellebuyck, improved to 10-1-1 with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .943 save percentage.
“With the amount of talent in this room, we’re paid a lot of money, so it wasn’t good enough,” Pirri said. “He played well, but we can control how we played, and I don’t think we did enough around the blue paint. Or me on the flank, I wasn’t good enough.”
Winnipeg, which maintained a two-point lead in the Central Division, capitalized on a pair of lapses by the Knights in the second to take the lead.
With the Knights on a power play, Pirri made a poor pass while under duress, and defenseman Nate Schmidt tried to hold the puck in the zone.
Instead, Connor ended up with a breakaway and made a slick move for his 17th goal at 5:55.
Another turnover, this one by Alex Tuch, led to Perreault’s backhand goal with 3:37 left in the second.
“We had the puck a lot and we had some power plays, some chances,” Fleury said. “But I just wish I could have made one of those breakaway saves to keep us in there.”
Pirri broke the shutout 1:03 into the third period, deflecting Brayden McNabb’s shot for his eighth goal in 11 games.
But Winnipeg limited the Knights the rest of the way to win its fifth straight at home.
“We played a real good hockey game, we made a couple mistakes, they buried us,” Gallant said. “We kept fighting back and got that early goal in the third period and made a game of it, but they played a good, solid game and their goalie was great, obviously.”