Game Five: Winnipeg Jets vs. Vegas Golden Knights Recap

Apr 27, 2023; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19), right wing Michael Amadio (22), defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7), and defenseman Alec Martinez (23) celebrate a goal scored by center William Karlsson (71) during the second period against the Winnipeg Jets in game five of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Pre-game information:

Nikolaj Ehlers drew back in for the Winnipeg Jets, and goaltender Connor Hellebuyck got the start for the Jets. Phil Kessel misses his first game since October 31st, 2009, and goaltender Laurent Brossoit gets the start for the Knights.

Starting for the Jets are forwards Morgan Barron, Adam Lowry, and Mason Appleton, and defensemen Brendan Dillon and Neal Pionk anchor the blue line to start.
Starting for Vegas are forwards Michael Amadio, Chandler Stephenson, and Mark Stone, and defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Alec Martinez anchor the blue line to start.

First Period:

Chandler Stephenson for the Vegas Golden Knights scored a huge goal just 50 seconds into the first period off a sneaky pass by teammate Mark Stone. This is a huge break for Vegas, who are looking to eliminate the Winnipeg Jets in front of their home fans.

The Jets would continue to be haunted by the injury bug as Nikolaj Ehlers would block a shock and be significantly shaken up on the play. This concerns head coach Rick Bowness and the rest of the team due to Ehlers’ lengthy injury history. On the same play, the Jets would go on the penalty kill as Dylan Samberg would get called for tripping. The Jets would find continued success on the penalty kill, as they would improve to 13/15 on the PK for a percentage of 87.6% in the post-season.

Vegas would continue to pelt Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck, but Hellebuyck would prove strong and make some huge consecutive saves around the 14 minute mark in the first period.

First Period Trends:

One noticeable trend for the Winnipeg Jets in the first period was their willingness to block shots stood out more than in the previous two games, with Ehlers taking a shot off the ankle early in the first and Samberg taking a shot off the hand late in the first. This contributed massively to the fact that Vegas was able to only record one shot on goal during a 10 minute span during the first period.

One noticeable trend for the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period was their ability to complete tape-to-tape passes during the first 10 minutes of the first period. This basically disappeared during the final 10 minutes of the first period, as the Jets would dial in defensively and figure out Bruce Cassidy’s system. If this play keeps up for Vegas, the Jets could easily take control of the game and bring the series back to Winnipeg for game six.

Second Period:

Continuing the early-period success for the Vegas Golden Knights, just 42 seconds into the second period, Mark Stone would net his first goal and second point of the game. Jets head coach Rick Bowness would immediately look at and question this for a potential high-sticking call. Shortly after, Bowness would not challenge it, and Vegas would take a 2-0 lead, making this an even harder hill for the Jets to climb now.

An interesting thing to note is that both of Vegas’ goals were scored between the Jets’ zone circles. This is an area that should be covered more tightly by the Jets center and defensemen, especially on a defensive zone rush. As a defenseman, if you close the gap and have your man, especially in a high-stakes playoff game, most of the time, you should be well off.

Similar to Chandler Stephenson’s goal early in the first, William Karlsson would net his first of the game, tallying his fourth goal of the series. This is similar to Stephenson’s goal, as the Jets defensemen left the Vegas forward with too much space. This similarity would lead to Karlsson burying a goal off a pass from Michael Amadio, letting Vegas breathe with a nice 3-0 lead.

There were a couple of high-danger chances for the Jets as Brendan Dillon and Adam Lowry would nearly cut the lead to 3-1, but Brossoit would deny both chances. This would lead to Adam Lowry getting called for hooking, making the play 4-on-3 for Vegas.

Shortly after that, Lowry would go off for hooking. Chandler Stephenson would net his second goal of the game, extending Vegas’ lead to a 4-0 lead. Vegas would score this goal just on the border of the face-off circle. This would not contribute to the continuance of goals right in the slot, though. The defenders need to close the gap between themselves and the puck carrier, which the Jets seemingly struggled to do.

Second Period Trends:

One second period trend for the Winnipeg Jets was their consistency in allowing one or multiple Vegas forwards to park themselves in the slot and create a high-danger scoring chance. This shows the hole that Josh Morrissey leaves on the blue line for the Jets, as he was consistent at covering most players in the slot.

One second period trend for Vegas Golden Knights was their consistent 20 minutes of play in the second period, potting three goals with multiple other solid chances. Vegas would play into the heads of the Jets, almost teasing the Jets into taking unnecessary penalties. The Jets would take an unnecessary hooking penalty and then close off the second period by having Kevin Stenlund show his frustrations, causing another scrum in the game. This scrum would lead to off-setting minors for cross-checking on Kevin Stenlund and roughing for Jonathan Marchessault.

Third Period:

The third period would not be off to a flashy start and would rather start at an even pace as the Jets look to cut the deficit.

Both teams would play a close and hockey sound period, both goaltenders would stop multiple high-danger chances throughout the third period. The Jets would continue to struggle to score on Brossoit but create more opportunities for themselves in the third period.

An interesting tactic that the Winnipeg Jets did was to pull their goaltender with just over 8 minutes left in the third period. Usually, when you’re down four goals with just under half a period left to play, you probably wouldn’t pull your goaltender. The Jets, however, needed to create some spark and find something to get past Brossoit.

As the period would get closer to being complete, the Jets would continue to press harder to find some life. This continued pressing on Brossoit would lead to Kyle Connor scoring the Jets first goal with just over 5 minutes left in the third, preventing a shutout for Brossoit.

With just 2:35 left in the 3rd period, Pierre-Luc Dubois would find the back of the next and make the game 4-2. Vegas would immediately challenge for a potential hand pass and be successful on their challenge, putting the lead back to 4-1 in favor of Vegas with 3:12 remaining in the third. Just when the Jets had started the engines, they encountered engine failure and failed to score any more goals…

Final Score and Stats:

The Las Vegas Golden Knights would win game five 4-1 and be the first team to win a round in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs. Vegas goaltender Laurent Brossoit would record 26 saves on 27 shots, posting a .964 save percentage. Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck would record 20 saves on 24 shots, posting a .833 save percentage.

Mark Stone would record one goal and two assists for a total of three points. Stone’s performance was a big reason for Vegas’ win tonight against Vegas.

Winnipeg Jets Most Valuable Player:

Connor Hellebuyck is my pick as MVP for the Jets; although he let in multiple goals, hockey is a team effort and requires a consistent 60 minutes from everybody on the ice. Hellebuyck bailed the Jets out far more times than necessary and allowed the Jets to breathe many times throughout the entire series and for half of game five.

Las Vegas Golden Knights Most Valuable Player:

Chandler Stephenson is my pick as MVP for Vegas, although Laurent Brossoit is a close second, in my opinion. Stephenson provided two huge goals for Vegas, the first in the opening minute of the game and the second on the power play. This would be Stephenson’s fourth multi-point game in this series, making him a consistent piece for Vegas’ success against the Jets.

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Conrad Jack

Conrad Jack is a lifelong hockey fan who is now actively writing for Inside The Rink covering primarily the Winnipeg Jets and the entire NHL second. He also covers the latest NHL News & Rumors, the NHL Entry Draft, and so much more for Inside The Rink.

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