83°F
weather icon Clear

Golden Knights take 3-1 series lead with 3-2 victory over Jets

Updated May 18, 2018 - 11:54 pm

It was an unusual sight considering Reilly Smith is not one of the first Golden Knights players on the ice at practice.

But mired in a goal-scoring slump, Smith was firing shots Thursday at City National Arena a good 10 minutes before the rest of his teammates emerged from the locker room.

“A lot of games when you have those chances and (they don’t) go in the back of the net, it just means you’re going to the right places,” Smith said. “Sooner or later, you’re going to find something.”

He found it Friday.

Smith pounced on a fortunate bounce and scored with 6:58 remaining in the third period, lifting the Golden Knights to a nail-biting 3-2 victory in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights, who continue to defy expectations, lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and are one victory from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.

Game 5 is at noon Sunday at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

According to the NHL, teams that take a 3-1 lead in the Conference Final/semifinals (since 1974-75) own an all-time series record of 41-1.

“We got to stay in the moment, don’t sit back. We can’t take a breath. This is all-in all the time,” Knights forward James Neal said. “They’re do or die. … Going back to a crazy rink, the fans will be nuts, and they’re doing everything they can to stay alive to push another game and get some life. We can’t give them anything. We have to continue to do what we’ve done all year. We’re confident in our group, I love the way we’re playing.”

William Karlsson and Tomas Nosek also scored for the Knights, and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 35 saves.

Winnipeg dominated the third period for the second straight game, outshooting the Knights 7-0 in the opening five minutes of the period, before defenseman Tyler Myers ripped a shot through Fleury’s legs at the 5:34 mark for a 2-2 tie.

“We’re not happy with the last two third periods we’ve had where they’ve come out and dominated,” Karlsson said. “It took us a goal to realize we’ve got to step it up.”

Just as the season-high announced crowd of 18,697 grew more nervous, the Knights caught a break.

Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien fanned on his shot at the point, allowing Smith to storm down the left wing with plenty of room.

“I honestly was like, ‘Come on, please. This would be great,’ ” Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “I think I was almost telling him, ‘I’d really appreciate this.’ What an unbelievable shot, though.”

With Jets forward Brandon Tanev and defenseman Josh Morrissey closing in, Smith ripped a shot past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck high to his stick side. The puck hit the underside of the crossbar and went in for Smith’s second goal of the playoffs and first since Game 3 at San Jose on April 30.

“I was just trying to get as much ice as I could before the other defenseman closed in,” Smith said. “I pretty much just buried my head and put it on net. Hellebuyck is a big goalie, so it’s tough to score on him far side.

“I was hoping I wasn’t going to have to eat that puck. (Byfuglien’s) got a good shot, but late in the third period, sometimes the ice can throw you some bounces. This game is all about bounces and mistakes and what you can do with them. We were fortunate enough to make something out of that.”

The Knights, who improved to 9-1 when scoring first in the playoffs, took advantage of an early power play to grab a 1-0 lead.

Moments after Karlsson’s one-timer was smothered by Hellebuyck, Alex Tuch won the ensuing faceoff and the puck eventually made its way to Jonathan Marchessault at the left point.

Marchessault waltzed into the slot and fed Karlsson at the right faceoff circle for another one-timer. Karlsson partially fanned on the shot but got enough on it for his sixth goal of the postseason.

“That’s usually those that go in, you know?” Karlsson said. “I didn’t really get a clear hit on it, but I’m just happy to see it go in.”

Winnipeg evened the score at 9:29 of the second period, as Patrik Laine beat Fleury with a slap shot from the left faceoff circle on a power play. Fleury denied Laine on a similar chance 11 seconds earlier.

But just as they did in Games 2 and 3, the Knights had a quick response, scoring 43 seconds later.

Hellebuyck lost control of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s shot, and the Knights center hopped on the rebound before finding Nosek for his first career postseason goal.

It was a bit of redemption for Nosek, who was in the penalty box when Laine scored.

“All series long we’ve been doing it,” Fleury said. “I feel like Winnipeg’s a team that feeds off that momentum when they get a goal. We’ve been great at it. They get a goal, but we go at them right back. We’ve been scoring big goals after that.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

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

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Knights Watch Party At Las Vegas Ballpark - Video
The Golden Knights host a watch party at the Las Vegas Ballpark where fans gathered to watch the game against the Pittsburg Penguins.
Golden Edge Mailbag | October 17th, 2019
The Review-Journal's Ben Gotz and Cassie Soto are back for a new rendition of the Golden Edge mailbag! Send in your VGK questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Malcom Subban Day-To-Day, Gallant Talks Golden Knights' Goaltenders - VIDEO
After suffering an undisclosed lower body injury in a loss to the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban was announced as having a day-to-day injury when head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his goaltenders after practice.
Golden Knights lose 4-1 to Coyotes - VIDEO
The Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. VGK Goalie Malcolm Subban exited the game early with an injury and is Day-to-day.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant knows Coyotes are "very aggressive" - Video
The Golden Knights will head to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Thursday with hopes to bounce back from Tuesday's 4-3 loss to the Bruins. Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant is fully aware that the Coyotes are a very aggressive team and knows his guys will have to match that speed.
Golden Knights Feast on Shark - Video
After swimming with (and defeating) the Sharks in their first two games of the season, the entire Vegas Golden Knights team feasted on their fair share of seafood at Zuma Las Vegas inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Golden Knights Greet Fans At Gold Carpet - Video
The Golden Knights walk the gold carpet before puck drop at their season opener against the San Jose Sharks at the T-Mobile Arena.
Golden Knights Hold Private Practice, Lunch for 1 October First Responders - Video
The Golden Knights held a private practice at City National Arena for first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and guests who were affected by the 1 October events. After practice, guests were able to meet the Golden Knights themselves to take pictures and get autographs.
Golden Knights Prepare to Honor Those Affected by 1 October - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams upcoming practice which will honor those affected by the events on October 1, 2017. The team has invited guests including first responders, Mandalay Bay employees and others who were impacted. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights GM Kelly McCrimmon Discusses Roster Updates - VIDEO
Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon discusses the teams roster and key injuries ahead of Opening Day (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Golden Knights Max Pacioretty on the Golden Edge Podcast - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty joins the Golden Edge podcast to talk about the upcoming season for the Knights, the rivalry with the Sharks and the Pacioretty 67 burger.
Golden Knights Alex Tuch, Cody Eakin Injured in Preseason Loss to Kings
The Golden Knights not only lost to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Friday night, the team also saw Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin head off the ice with injuries. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz give an update on the players injuries as well as discuss what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Suffer Second Preseason Loss to the Kings - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's second loss of the preseason, this time to the LA Kings 3-2. Head coach Gerard Gallant knows his team got off to a sloppy start but was impressed with the final effort.
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves wants to play in the pre-season - VIDEO
Golden Knights Forward Ryan Reaves talks about coming back from an injury and a possible long term deal with the team. September 26, 2019.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gallant speaks on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant speaks after practice on September 26, 2019, on injuries and cuts before last two pre-season games.
Golden Knights Suffer First Preseason Loss to Avalanche, 4-1 - Video
The Golden Knights suffered the team's first preseason loss, after falling to the Avalanche 4-1. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz break down what went wrong for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights React to First Preseason Loss - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant called the first loss of the preseason a "team loss" that was "tough to watch."
Paul Stastny On Playing More Games - Video
Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny talks about preparing for the regular season and playing more games before the season starts.
Golden Knights Nate Schmidt Talks About Seeking Change With PED Testing - Video
The Golden Knights wrap up their practice for the day and Nate Schmidt hoping to see changes to PED testing.
Nate Schmidt On Wanting Change With PED Testing - Video
Nate Schmidt speaks about wanting to see change with PED testing in the NHL.
Fleury and Marchessault Play Heads Up - Video
Golden Knights Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jonathan Marchessault play heads up VGK edition.
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
THE LATEST