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Golden Knights fall to Jets for 7th loss in 8 home games

Updated February 23, 2019 - 12:05 am

The boos started during the first period Friday after a Golden Knights power play went completely awry.

By the middle of the third, a portion of the announced crowd of 18,280 had seen enough and started to empty out of T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights continued their recent struggles on home ice and had two costly lapses that led to a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in their final game before Monday’s trade deadline.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re in the game 56 minutes and you let (in) five goals in those four minutes,” center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “It’s frustrating we lost again at home in front of our fans. It’s the last thing we want to do. Boston I could take that; this one is just a bad loss. A few of the goals should never happen. It’s on us, that’s it.”

Winnipeg scored twice in the opening 1:28, a Knights record for the fastest two goals allowed to start a game, and also converted twice in the final 30.8 seconds of the second period.

Patrik Laine ended a 15-game goal-scoring drought with two power-play goals for Winnipeg, while Kyle Connor and Adam Lowry each finished with a goal and an assist.

“We have to find the Misfits again. I don’t see them,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “I don’t like what I’m seeing. We played a bad overall game and took some soft penalties at bad times. We battled back from (down 2-0) and then take dumb penalties. There was a lot of that.”

The Knights dropped their third straight overall and have lost 10 of their past 13 game (3-9-1). They are 1-6-1 in their past eight games at home.

Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 23 saves and lost his fifth in a row. He allowed more than four goals for the fourth time in his past five starts.

The Jets had lost three straight, including a 7-1 rout at Colorado on Wednesday, and captain Blake Wheeler was critical of his team’s effort.

“We lost a couple of huge games here last playoffs so we needed to win this one,” Laine said. “After the game in Colorado we needed a good bounce back and I think we did that and came out of the gates really good. Everybody was working hard and playing as hard as they can and you could see that on the scoreboard.”

The Knights tied the score at 2-2 with 11:51 left in the second period when Shea Theodore wristed a shot through traffic that ended up behind Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

But the Jets went ahead after Reilly Smith took a hooking penalty in the offensive zone and Laine one-timed a cross-ice feed from Wheeler with 30.8 seconds left in the second.

Lowry added a backbreaker with 3.7 seconds left when he won a battle in front for a loose puck and knocked it past Fleury for a 4-2 lead.

“The timing of the goals, tonight especially, are hard to overcome,” left wing Max Pacioretty said. “Goals early in the game, goals at the end of a period, that’s a tough hole to dig yourself out of. But at the same time, you have to be resilient knowing you can come back and hopefully win a game.”

Nikolaj Ehlers, who missed the past 20 games with an upper-body injury, talked his way into returning to the Winnipeg lineup and made an impact on his first shift.

Fleury turned away two shots from close range, but Ehlers stuck with the play and popped in a rebound 56 seconds into the first period for his 16th goal.

The Jets added to their lead 32 seconds later when the Knights failed to clear the zone after losing a faceoff, and the puck ended up with Connor. He was left 1-on-1 with Fleury and deposited his 24th goal.

The Knights recovered from the horrible start and carried play for the latter half of the period before a pretty passing play by the fourth line cut the deficit to 2-1 at 15:43.

Brayden McNabb flipped a high pass that Ryan Reaves gloved down inside the blue line. He dropped a pass for Tomas Nosek, who then teed up Bellemare for his fifth goal and first since Dec. 4.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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