Vegas edges Jets 2-1 to advance to Stanley Cup Final Featured

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Winnipeg, Manitoba (NHN)-The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 Sunday afternoon to win game 5 of the Western Conference Final and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, winning the series four games to one.

Winnipegger Ryan Reaves counted the game winner in the second period, tipping a Luca Sbisa shot past Jets goaltender to score his first goal of the playoffs.

"It's been a while since I scored and helped the team on the scoresheet," said Reaves. "I don't think the points for matter. It's definitely special that I got the win in Winnipeg."

"The whole mentality of this team is 'next man up.' We've got a deep team, we've got a lot of good players. You look at the season this team's had even before I got here, everybody's stepping up. The guys that weren't playing, msyelf included, we stayed ready. We had fun while we were doing it, but we worked hard so when we were called upon we were ready to go," said Reaves.

Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for the Golden Knights.

Josh Morrissey scored for Winnipeg. Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 30 shots for the Jets.

“No, I thought this was our year. You could see how hard everyone was working. How much everyone wanted it. That’s why this one’s tough," said Hellebuyck.

“Every game was tight. Every game was a matter of inches, almost. They capitalized when they needed the chance and it just sucks," said Mark Scheifele.

Alex Tuch put Vegas on the board 5:11 into the contest, taking advantage of a turnover in the Jets end when Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey's pass careened off of the skate of the forechecking Ryan Carpenter and ended up right on Tuch's blade.

Tuch coralled the disc, cradling it before unleashing a low wrister which beat Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck just inside the left post.

The goal was his 6th of the playoffs.

"I had a feeling Hellebuyck was going to slide over with me so I shot it. Just far side low. It's one of the spots I've been taught to shoot since I was five years old," said Tuch.

Josh Morrissey got the Jets on even terms late in the first period when he stepped into a puck won off a faceoff by Bryan Little and blasted a slapshot past Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the high slot, beating him high glove side to make it 1-1 at 17:14.

The goal was his first of the playoffs.

Ryan Reaves gave the Golden Knights the lead 13:21 into the second period, tipping a Luca Sbisa shot from the point past a screened Hellebuyck to make it 2-1.

The Jets tried in vain to tie the game and were granted few quality chances in the third period.

Blake Wheeler came the closest, getting a low wrister off with a clear path to the net with just under four minutes remaining in regulation but was unsuccessful.

“It was their time. They’re just playing really well. And you have to give them all the credit. Typically in a seven-game series, the better team wins. Coming into it, I thought we had the best team. I felt that way and obviously I’m a little bit biased, standing in this room feeling that we had a great opportunity. And that team just ... it was their time. They made it really tough for us. We had to work for everything we got and even when we broke them down, we just couldn’t seem to ever gain the type of momentum we needed to get this thing on our terms," said Wheeler.

Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice said there was a cost to get to the Conference Finals. "How we got here. First of all, in the end when you add it all up, they were good. They were real good. Did not give any easy offence. We had to grind and work and work for the chances that we did get. There's a cost to that. And it stacked up," he said.

Vegas Head Coach Gerard Gellant said first eight minutes of the game were key in the win over Winnipeg. "The biggest thing in our game was the first eight minutes of the hockey game. I thought we came out and the shots were seven or eight to one. I thought that was real good," he said. SHOTS-VEGAS 32 WINNIPEG 32


Philip Paul-Martin

A well rounded journalist with experience in both print and broadcast mediums, Philip has written news stories with impact, broken national news while at the CBC, anchored radio news and hosted talk show radio. His coverage includes feature writing, game stories and more in-depth pieces during the off-season as well as writing about the National Hockey League and the Winnipeg Jets. He calls Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada home.