Golden Knights top Jets 3-1, tie up Western Conference finals

The Associated Press

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and said the expansion Vegas Golden Knights sent a message, bouncing back with a 3-1 series-evening win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

“Every time we need a big game as a group, we show up,” Marchessault said. “We showed the hockey world we earned the right to be here.”

Tomas Tatar scored 6 minutes, 37 seconds into the game for the Golden Knights, and Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 30 saves.

Kyle Connor scored midway through the third period to pull Winnipeg within a goal. Marchessault restored the two-goal lead 1:28 later.

Connor Hellebuyck had 25 saves for the Jets.

After losing the series opener, Marchessault told reporters the team faced a must-win game.

“If you’re going to talk out there in the media that you have to be better, I think you need to lead by example,” he said. “I tried to do that.”

Game 3 is Wednesday in Las Vegas.

“I don’t think anybody is panicking,” Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba said. “We like our road game. We like where it was in the Nashville series.”

Winnipeg won three times on the top-seeded Predators’ home ice, including Game 7 last week.

The expansion Golden Knights appeared to be rusty in the series opener, and the Jets scored three goals early in a 4-2 win about 48 hours after advancing out of the second round.

It looked like they were going to pick up where they left off.

“They came out flying again with a lot of speed,” Fleury said.

Fleury, who helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win three Stanley Cups, made key stops early and got help from teammate and a post in the opening minutes to keep the puck out of his net.

“Fleury had to make three or four really good saves in the first seven minutes,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We rebounded after that. We got that 2-0 lead and it was a different game for us. When teams are chasing the lead, it’s tough for teams to battle back.”

Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele, who has postseason-high 12 goals , got the puck past Fleury in the opening moments of the game and Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt cleared it from the crease.

Vegas generated offense by making plays without the puck, forcing turnovers to set up goals.

“We were on them,” Golden Knights forward Erik Haula said. “That’s our game. We’re a fast team. I think we showed that.”