Los Angeles (AFP) – Patrik Laine and Joel Armia scored 46 seconds apart as the Winnipeg Jets rolled over the expansion Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 in the opening game of their NHL Western Conference final series on Saturday.
The Jets jumped all over the Golden Knights from the opening puck drop, scoring two times on their first six shots against a shellshocked Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Finnish forward Laine scored on the powerplay at 6:49 of the first period to make it 2-0 and the Jets’ roaring start continued when Armia made it 3-0 at 7:35 after a successful challenge by the Jets’ coaching staff overturned a no-goal call by the referees.
Mark Scheifele, with his league leading 12th goal of the post-season, and Dustin Byfuglien also scored for Winnipeg who reached the NHL semi-finals series by knocking off the Nashville Predators, the best team in the league during the regular season. Jets captain Blake Wheeler had three assists.
Game two of the best of seven series is Monday night in Winnipeg.
Brayden McNabb and William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights who weren’t even in existence a year ago but have gotten this far in their inaugural season on hard work and desire.
The Golden Knights looked to be the rustier of the two teams as they had six days off after eliminating the San Jose Sharks in six games.
Fleury was not his normal self, giving up a goal to Byfuglien just 65 seconds into the contest in front of a pro-Jets crowd of 15,300 at the Bell MTS Place arena. Fleury finished with 26 saves.
Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck stopped 21 shots.