Video: WPG Recap: Laine, Lowry tally in 5-2 loss in Vegas
LAS VEGAS, Nevada - Despite having points in 11 of their last 12 games coming into tonight, the second period has been a sore spot for the Winnipeg Jets.
It was again on Friday night in Vegas, as the Golden Knights scored three times in the frame to hand Winnipeg a 5-2 loss, the first in regulation since Oct. 17.
The Jets have now been outscored 20-8 in the second period this season.
"I think the way they play, their forecheck was really tough to break," said captain Blake Wheeler. "We had a really tough time getting out of our zone tonight. They're great at getting above the puck and even when we made a clean pass up to the wings or the centre, there just wasn't a whole lot of space to make a play.
"You have to give them a lot of credit. We made a couple mistakes that cost us, and gave them too much space."
Video: WPG@VGK: Lowry deflects Kulikov's shot past Lagace
Adam Lowry and Patrik Laine had the goals for the Jets, while Connor Hellebuyck - previously unbeaten in regulation this season - was pulled after the second period after giving up five goals on 21 shots.
"I can't expect to go how many starts without a loss. It's going to happen. I'm going to look to get better," said Hellebuyck. "I'm going to work harder tomorrow. I'm going to use this as motivation. I can get back to work and realize how much harder I have to start working again. Not that I wasn't working hard, but it's a little bit more motivation. I need to get back at the wheel and get back at it."
Vegas would open the scoring 6:41 into the first, when Luca Sbisa one-timed a David Perron pass from the blue line past the glove side of Hellebuyck.
Video: POST GAME | Connor Hellebuyck
After two great chances to tie the game, first off a Josh Morrissey back door feed to Brandon Tanev that just went wide, then a Laine shot from the slot that was turned away by Maxime Lagace, Vegas struck again.
This time it was David Perron, whose wrist shot from the top of the circle off the rush went under the arm of Hellebuyck, making it 2-0 Golden Knights.
"I think we missed the best chance of the first period, Morrissey to Tanev back door. But we were never able to contain any of the momentum that we built," said head coach Paul Maurice. "The second half of the second period we stopped being able to do some things that we expect ourselves to do.
"We weren't as good as we have been."
Video: POST GAME | Blake Wheeler
But the Jets would answer back 39 seconds later. Tanev sent a pass to Dmitry Kulikov at the point, and his blast was redirected by Lowry in front of Lagace to cut the Vegas lead to 2-1.
Vegas would restore the two-goal cushion 7:43 into the second. When William Karlsson was just outside the crease as a point shot from Deryk Engelland found its way through traffic. When the puck popped loose from Hellebuyck, Karlsson slid home the rebound for his fifth of the season, and a 3-1 Golden Knights lead.
Just 1:40 after that, and with William Carrier in the box for high sticking, the Jets power play struck. Right off a Mark Scheifele face off win, Dustin Byfuglien sent a pass to Laine at the top of the circle, and the Finnish sniper unleashed a rocket that beat Lagace high on the glove side.
Laine has now scored in four straight games.
Video: WPG@VGK: Laine blasts one-timer past Lagace for PPG
The Golden Knights answered back on a power play of their own. After Kyle Connor had been sent off for slashing, Kulikov's clearing attempt ended on the stick of James Neal, who beat Hellebuyck from the bottom of the circle.
Karlsson would strike again before the end of the middle frame. Sent in on a shorthanded breakaway by Reilly Smith, Karlsson faked to his forehand and lifted a backhand over the outstretched pad of Hellebuyck to extend the lead to 5-2.
Steve Mason took over for Hellebuyck in the third period. In his first action since Oct. 27, Mason made fives saves, including a highlight reel stop on a point blank one-timer from Jonathan Marchessault.
"I didn't think the puck was going for Helly early on, but didn't want to pull him toward the end of the second period because I didn't want to give the impression that it was on him. He was like everyone else tonight," said Maurice.
"Mason is going in tomorrow. That was the plan. It was good to get him in…. So he's got some game action to get himself ready for tomorrow."
Video: POST GAME | Adam Lowry
The Jets will get right back at it tomorrow night in Arizona against the Coyotes to wrap up a three-game road trip.
Josh Morrissey left the game in the third period after blocking a shot and didn't return. Maurice said he didn't have an update on the defenceman's condition, and would know more before tomorrow night's tilt with the Coyotes.