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Conference Final

Smith steps up for Golden Knights against Jets in Game 4

Forward scores tiebreaking goal for Vegas, which is one win from Stanley Cup Final

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- Reilly Smith, step right up.

Smith, who hadn't scored for the Vegas Golden Knights since Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round against the San Jose Sharks, scored arguably the biggest goal of his NHL career in a 3-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the conference final at T-Mobile Arena on Friday.

With 6:58 remaining in the third period, Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien flubbed a shot along the right boards, and Smith got to the loose puck and scored the tiebreaking goal blocker side on goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on a breakaway.

 

[RELATED: Golden Knights maintain focus following Game 4 win Complete Jets vs. Golden Knights series coverage]

 

Vegas is one win from the Stanley Cup Final with Game 5 at Winnipeg on Sunday (3 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

"I was just trying to get as much ice as I could before the other defenseman closed in," said Smith, who has 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 14 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. "I pretty much buried my head and put it on net. Hellebuyck is a big goalie so it's tough to score on him far side."

Golden Knights defenseman Luca Sbisa said, "I think he was pretty tired because when he scored he barely celebrated. I was going nuts. 'Did that puck go in? What's going on?'

"I was pretty certain, bar down. Unreal shot."

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Smith wires wrister in for lead

Another night, another hero.

That's the way it's been for the Golden Knights during their inaugural NHL season. Why should the playoffs be any different?

"We have all kinds of guys stepping up huge in the playoffs," Sbisa said. "[Smith] won the footrace on that loose puck and he had a lot of pressure coming from behind and somehow he went bar down."

Smith also had an assist on William Karlsson's power-play goal at 2:25 of the first period that gave Vegas a 1-0 lead.

"Some nights, [Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury] is playing unbelievable," Sbisa said. "Some nights, we have the fourth lines scoring big goals. Some nights, we have individual guys stepping up and making huge plays, scoring huge goals. Like tonight.

Video: WPG@VGK, Gm4: Fleury, Smith talk Game 4 victory

"And you need that in the playoffs. You can't just have one line going, depending on one line."

Smith, who had 60 points (22 goals, 38 assists) in 67 games in the regular season, has been generating chances on Vegas' No. 1 line with Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault, which has combined for 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) against Winnipeg. Smith said he didn't feel unlucky after he went six games without a goal.

"No, I don't think I ever really have that mindset," Smith said. "A lot games where you have those chances not go in the back of the net, it just means you're going to the right places. Sooner or later, you're going to find something. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a bounce and be able to get that chance."

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