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Brossoit brilliant in Jets win over Golden Knights

Jets goaltender makes 43 saves; Kyle Connor scores twice in 4-1 win

by Mitchell Clinton @MitchellClinton /

WINNIPEG - Laurent Brossoit put in a performance to remember on Tuesday night. In fact, he set a new franchise record along the way.

The Winnipeg Jets goaltender made 43 saves to back stop his squad to a 4-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights in front of a sold-out Bell MTS Place.

He turned aside 26 pucks in the middle frame, setting a new franchise record in the process.

"I like periods like that in games like that where I'm tested early and often," said Brossoit. "It got me into the game and there wasn't a lot of rest in between. I liked that."

Video: VGK@WPG: Brossoit impresses with three straight saves

The 25-year-old learned he would be starting in goal on Monday. He said as soon as he got the news, his competitive fire was lit, as the Golden Knights had won eight of their last nine games coming into Winnipeg.

"It's no question they're a great hockey team and they're on fire right now," Brossoit said after the win that moved his record to 10-1-1 this season. "It was the toughest team I've played this season so far. To go out there and perform and feel the way I did, it's definitely an added boost of confidence for me right now."

Kyle Connor scored twice - including one shorthanded, the first Vegas has given up this season - while Mathieu Perreault and Mark Scheifele added singles of their own to round out the scoring. The Jets have now won four straight on home ice, and five of their last six overall.

"They're a quick team. You have to be playing fast out there and making quick decisions," said Connor, who now has 18 goals this season. "It felt like the game ramped up as it went on. It's hard to emulate the playoffs, but that's pretty close to how it's going to be."

Brossoit was on his game early, making 10 saves in the opening period. It wasn't until the second period that the red light would be lit for the first time.

Video: VGK@WPG: Connor turns on jets, pots SHG

A Joe Morrow roughing penalty put the Jets shorthanded for a third time in the contest, but a turnover forced by Bryan Little and Connor high in the Winnipeg zone sent Connor in on a breakaway.

He made no mistake, flying down the ice, faking backhand and burying his 17th of the season putting the Jets up 1-0.

"I knew the guy was on my back. I didn't know what really Fleury was going to do there. I just made my move and he threw out the poke check, so it opened up the side," said Connor, adding he's embraced the penalty killing role he has in addition to power play duties.

"I like doing it. It keeps you in the flow of the game a bit. I think I can use my speed and create some havoc out there."

Video: VGK@WPG: Perreault steals puck, scores with backhand

Winnipeg's penalty kill would finish the night killing all six Vegas power plays.

"We did a good job up ice and not allowing them clean entries," said Blake Wheeler. "That can be frustrating for a PP when you're breaking the puck out, having to come 200 feet every time. You want to set up in the zone and make plays and try to score goals. I thought we were aggressive at the line. 

"We didn't really let them get set up a whole lot. When we did, either a big shot block or LB made a big save."

The Jets would add to that lead with 3:37 to go in the middle frame, when Perreault chipped the puck out of Deryk Engelland's possession just inside the Vegas blue line. That gave Perreault space with nobody between him and Fleury. A quick move to his backhand forced Fleury down, allowing Perreault to lift his 10th of the season into the net.

But just 1:03 into the third, Brandon Pirri deflected a Brayden McNabb point shot that Brossoit could only get a piece of. The puck went into the top corner, pulling Vegas within one.

Head coach Paul Maurice felt that type of play may have been the only way Brossoit would be beat on this night. 

"He just warmed as the game went on. It was a fairly even first period. There wasn't a lot of action," said Maurice. "But as the penalties came on, you got that feeling partway through the second period that they're going to need to get a tip or something to beat him because he was just tracking everything so well."

Video: VGK@WPG: Connor pots second goal into empty net

But that's as close as Vegas would get, as Brossoit capped off his night with eight more saves in the final period.

For captain Wheeler - who had two assists of his own to put him at 51 helpers on the season - the way the Jets played in the final period stood out.

"They had a little bit of a deflection to get one by LB, but that's probably the only way they were going to score tonight," said Wheeler. "He was on his game. We got our feet moving, stayed out of the box, and five-on-five we like the way we play."

Wheeler forced a turnover with the Vegas net empty, resulting in Connor's second of the night. Then just over a minute later, Wheeler picked up the secondary assist on Scheifele's 25th of the season.

The win moves the Jets to 30-14-2, two points clear of the Nashville Predators for the Central Division lead.

Those two teams face off on Thursday night at Bridgestone Arena, a game which starts a two-game road trip for the Jets leading into the five-day player break.

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